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George Washington Flowers 
Memorial Collection 

DUKE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 



ESTABLISHED BY THE 
FAMILY OF 

COLONEL FLOWERS 



ire Room 



O. 3/tf3> 



a 




STRANGE 




HI- 



STORY 




BY SIR E. BULWER LYTTON. i 




• ^ e* *> oh>^ 



A STRANGE .STORY, 






BY 




SIR E. BULVER LYTTOI, 



SECOND EDITION. 



MOBILE : 

S. H. GO F/iy. EL & CO. 

1863. 



415312 



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I 

A STRANGE STORY. 



■ 






CHAPTER I. 



I.\ the year 18 — I settled as a physician at one of the wealthiest 
of our greal English towns, which 1 will designate by the initial 

L . 1 was yei young, bul I had acquired souk- reputation by 

a professional work which is, 1 believe, still among the received 
authorities on the subjecl of which it treats. 1 had studied at 
Edinburgh and at Paris, and had borne away from both those il- 
lustrious schools of medicine whatever guarantees for future dis- 
tinction the praise of professors may concede to the ambition of 
students. On becoming a member of the College of Physicians, 1 
made a tour of the principal cities of Europe, taking letters of in- 
troduction to eminent medical men; and, gathering from many 
theories and modes of treatment hints to enlarge the foundations of 
unprejudiced and comprehensive practice, I had resolved to fix my 
residence in London, lmt before this preparatory tour 
was completed my resolve was changed by one of those unexpected 
events which determine the fate man in vain would work out for 
himself, In passing through the Tyrol, on my way into the north 
of Italy, 1 found in a small inn, remote from medical attendance, 
Qglish traveler — seized with acute inflammation of the lungs, 
and in a state of imminent danger. 1 devoted myself to him night 
day, and, perhaps more through careful nursing than active 
remedies, i had the happiness to effect his complete recovery. The 
traveler proved to be Julius Faber, a physician of great distinc- 
tion — contented to reside, where he was born, in the' provincial city 
of L , but whose reputation as a profound and original patho- 
logist was widely spread, and whose writings had formed no unim- 
portant part of my special studies. It was during a short holiday 
excursion, from which he was about to return with renovated vigor, 
that he had been thus stricken down. The patient so accidentally 
met with became the founder of my professional fortunes. Hecon- 
ceived a warm attachment for me ; perhaps the more affectionate 



415312 



4 A STRANGE STORV. 

because he was a childless bachelor, and the nephew who would 
succeed to his wealth evinced no desire to succeed to the toils by 
which the wealth had been acquired. Tims, ha-ving-an heiMbr the 
one, he had long looked about for an heir to the owieY fcnd now re- 
solved on finding that heir in me. So when Ave parted Dr. Faber 
made me promise to correspond with him regularly, and it was not 
long before he disclosed by letter the plans he had formed in my 
favor. He said that he was growing old ; his-prattice was beyond 
his strength; he needed a partner; he was not disposed to put up 
to sale the health of patients whom he bad learned to regard as his 
children. Money was no object to him ; but it was an object close 
at his heart that the humanity he had served, and the reputation 
he had acquired should suffer no loss in his choice, of a successor. 

In fine, he proposed that I should a me to L as his 

partner, with the view of succeeding to bis entire practice al 
end of two years, when it was his intention to retire. 

The opening into fortune thus afforded to me was 01 rely 

presents itself to a young man enterii a overcrowded 

fession. And to an aspirant less allured by the desire of fortune 
than the hope of distinction, the fame of the physician who I 
generously offered to me the inestimable benefits of his long experi- 
ence, and his cordial introduction, was in itself an assurance tl 
metropolitan practice is not essential to a national renown. 

I went, then, to L , and before t ; . years of my partner- 

ship had expired, my success justified my kind friend's selection, 
and far more than realized my own expectations. I was fortunate 
in effecting some notable cures in the earliest cases submitted to 
me, and it is every thing in the career of a physician when . 
luck wins betimes Air I confidence which patients r; 

Qgthened experience. To the rapid facility 
which my way was made, some circu 

sional skill probablj ed from the suspicion of 

a medical adventurer by the accid birth and fortune. 

longed to an ancient family (a branch of the once powerful border 
clan of the Fenwicks), that had for many generations held a fair 
estate in the neighborhood of Windermere. As an only son 1 had 
succeeded to that estate ou attaining my majority, and had sold it 
to pay off the debts which had been made by my father, who had 
the costly tastes of au antiquarian and collector. The residue on 
the sale insured me a modest independence apart from the profits 
of a profession', and as I had not been legally bound to defray my 
father's debts, so I obtained that character for disinterestedness and 
integrity which always in England tends to propitiate the public to 
the successes achieved by industry or talent. Perhaps, too, any 
professional ability I might possess was the more readily conceded, 
because I had cultivated with assiduity the sciences and the schol- 
arship which are collaterally connected witii the study of medicine. 
Thus, in a word, I established a social position which came in aid 



A STRANGE STORY. 5 

of my professional repute, and silenced much of that envy which 
usually imbitters and sometimes impedes success. 

Dr. Faber retired at the end of the two years agreed upon. He 

went aferoad, and being, though advanced in years, of a frame still 

it, and habits of mind still inquiring aud eager, he i ommenced 

a lengthened course of foreign travel, during which our correspond- 

at first frequent, gradually languished, and finally died away. 

1 succeeded at once to the larger pari of the practice which the 
labors of thirty years had secured to my predecessor. My chief 
rival was a Dr. Lloyd, a benevolent, fervid man. not without genius 
— if genius he present where judgment is absent ; not without 
science, if that maybe science which fails in precision. One of 
those clever desultory men who, in adopting a profession, do not 
give up to it the whole force and heat of their minds. Men of that 
kind habitually accept a mechanical routine, because in the exercise 
eir ostensible calling their imaginative faculties are drawn 
away to pursuits more alluring. Therefore, in their proper voca- 
tion they arc seldom bold or inventive — out of it they are sometimes 
to excess. And when i ke up a novelty in theirown 

ision they cherish it with an obstinate tenacity, and an ex- 
travagant passion, unknown to those quiet philosophers who take 
up novelties every day, examine them with the sobriety of prac 
eyes, to 'ay down altogether, modify in part, or accept in v, ;. 
rding as inductive experiment supports or destroys conjecture. 

Dr. Lloyd had been esteemed a learned naturalist long before he 
was admitted to be a tolerable physician. Amidst the privations 
of his youth he had contrived to form, and with each succeeding 
year he had perseveringly increased, a zoological collection of 
ares, nol alive, bur, happily for the beholder,. stuffed or em- 
balmed. From what I have said it will be truly inferred that Dr. 
Lloyd's earlier career as a physician had not been brilliant ; but of 
laic years he had gradually rather aged than worked himself into 
thai professional authority and station which time confers on a 
thoroughly respectable man, whom no one is disposed to envy and 
all are disposed to like. 

>n'ow in L there were two distinct social circles : that of the 

wealthy merchants and traders, and that of a few privileged fami- 
lies, inhabiting a part of the town aloof from the marts of commerce, 
and called the Abbey Hill. These superb Areopagites exercised 
over the wives and daughters of the inferior citizens to whom all of 

L , except the Abbey Hill, owed its prosperity, the same kind 

of mysterious influence which the fine ladies of May fair and Bel- 
gravia ale reported to hold over the female denizens of Bloomsbury 
and Maryiebone. 

Abbey Hill was not opulent, but it was powerful by a concen- 
tration of its resources in all matters of patronage. Abbey Hill 
had its own milliner, and its own draper, its own confectioner, 
butcher, baker, and tea-dealer, and the patronage of Abbey Hill 



6 A STRANGE STORY. 

was like the patronage of royalty— less lucrative in itself than as a 
solemn certificate of general merit. The shops on which Abbey 
Hill conferred its custom were certainly not the cheapest, possibly 
not the best, But they were undeniably the most imposing. The 
proprietors were decorously pompous— the shopmen superciliously 
polite. They could not be more so if they had belonged to the 
State, and been paid by a public which they benefited and despised, 
The ladies of Low Town (as the city subjacent to the Hill had 
been styled from a date remote in the feudal ages) entered those 
shops with a certain awe, and left them with a certain pride. There 
they had learned what the Hill approved. There they had bought 
what the Hill had purchased. It is much in this life to be q 
sure that we are in the right, whatever that conviction may cost us. 
Abbey Hill had been in the habit of appointing, among other objects 
of patronage, its own physician. But that habit had fallen into 
disuse during the latter years of my predecessor's practice. His 
superiority over all other medical men in the town bad become so 
incontestable that, though he was emphatically the doctor of Low 
Town, the head of its hospitals and infirmaries, and by birth re- 
lated to its principal traders, still as Abbey Hill was occasionally 
subject to the physical infirmities of meaner mortals, so on those 
occasions it deemed it best not to push the point of honor to the 
wanton sacrifice of life. Since Low Town possessed one of the. 
most famous physicians in England, Abbey Hill magnanimously 
resolved not to crush him by a rival. Abbey Hill let him feel its 
pulse. 

AVhen my predecessor retired I had presumptuously expected 
that the Hill would have continued to suspend its normal right to 
a special physician, and shown to me the same generous favor it 
had shown to him, who had declared me worthy to succeed to his 
honors. I had the more excuse for this presumption because the 
Hill had already allowed me to visit a fair proportion of its invalids, 
had said some very gracious things to me about the great respecta- 
bility of the Fenwick family, and sent me some invitations to dinner, 
and a great many invitations to tea. 

But my self-conceit received a notable check. Abbey Hill de- 
clared that the time had come to reassert its dormant privilege — it 
must have a doctor of its own choosing — a doctor who might, in- 
deed, be permitted to visit Low Town from motives of humanity or 
gains but who must emphatically assert his special allegiance to 
Abbey Hill by fixing his home on that venerable promontory. 
Miss Brabazon, a spinster of uncertain age, but undoubted pedi- 
gree, with small fortune; but high nose, which she would pleasantly 
observe was a proof of her descent from Humphrey Duke of Glou- 
cester (with whom, indeed, I have no doubt, in spite of chronology, 
that she very often dined.), was commissioned to inquire of me 
diplomatically, and without committing Abbey Hill too much by 
overture, whether I would take a large and anticpaated mansion, in 



A STRANGE STORY. 7 

which abbots were said to have lived many centuries ago, and 
which was still popularly styled Abbots' House, situated on the 
verge of the Hill, as in thai case the " Hill" would think of me. 

" It is a large house for a single man, I allow," said Miss Bra- 
bazon, candidly; and then added, with a sidelong glance of alarm- 
ing sweetness, "but when Dr. Fenwick has taken his true position 
(so old a family !) among Us, he need not long remain single unless 
he prefer it." 

I replied, with more asperity than the occasion called for, that I 
had no thought of changing my residence at present. And if the 
Hill wauled me, the Hill must send for me. 

Two days afterwards Dr. Lloyd took Abbots' House, and in less 
than a week was proclaimed medical adviser to the Hill. The 
election had been decided by the fiat of a great lady, who reigned 
supreme on the sacred eminence, under the name and title of Mrs. 
Colonel Poyntz. 

" Dr. Fenwick," said this lady, "is a clever young man and a 
gentleman, but he gives himself airs — the Hill does not allow any 
airs but its own. Besides, he is a new-comer: resistance to new- 
comers, and. indeed, to all things new, except caps and novels, is 
one of the bonds that keep old established societies together. Ac- 
cordingly, it is by my advice that Dr. Lloyd has taken Abbots' 
House: the rent would be too high for his means if the Hill did 
not feel bound in honor to justify the trust he has placed in its 
patronage. I told him that all my friends, when they had any 
Hung the matter with them, would send for him; those who are 
my friends will do so. What the Hill does, plenty of common 
people down there will do also — so that question is settled ! " And 
it was settled. 

Dr. Lloyd, thus taken by the band, soon extended the range of 
his visits beyond the Hill, which was not precisely a mountain of 
gold to doctors, and shared with myself, though in a comparatively 
small degree, the much more lucrative practice of Low Town. 

I had no cause to grudge his success, nor did I. But to my 
theories of medicine his diagnosis was shallow, and his prescriptions 
obsolete. When we were summoned to a joint consultation, our 
views as to the proper course of treatment seldom agreed. Doubt- 
less be thought I ought to have deferred to his seniority in years, 
bin 1 held the doctrine which youth deems a truth and age a para- 
dox, namely, that in science the young men are the practical elders, 
inasmuch as they are schooled in the latest experiences science has 
gathered up, while their seniors are cramped by the dogmas they 
schooled to believe when the world was some decades the 
younger. 

Meanwhile my reputation continued rapidly to advance ; it be- 
came more than local; my advice was sought even by patients 
from the metropolis. That ambition which, conceived in early 
youth, had decided my career and sweetened all its labors — the 



8 A STRANGE STORY. 

ambition to take a rank and leave a name as one of the great 
pathologists to whom humanity accords a grateful, if calm, renown 
—saw before it a level field and a certain goal. 

I know not whether a success far beyond that usually attained 
at the age I had reached served to increase, but it seemed to my- 
self to justify the main characteristics of my moral organization — 
intellectual pride. 

Though mild and gentle to the sufferers under my care, as a 
necessary element of professional duty, I was intolerant of contra- 
diction from those who belonged to my calling, or even from those 
who, in general opinion, opposed my favorite theories. 

I had espoused a school of medical philosophy severely rigid in 
its inductive logic. My creed was that of stem materialism. I 
had a contempt for the understanding of men who accepted with 
credulity what they could not explain by reason. My favorite 
phrase was " common sense." At the same time I had no preju- 
dice against bold discovery, and discovery necessitates conjecture ; 
but I dismissed as idle all conjecture that could not be brought to a 
practical test. 

As in medicine I had been the pupil of Broussais, so in meta- 
physics I was the disciple of Condillac. 1 believed with that 
philosopher that "all our knowledge we owe to Nature: that in 
the beginning we can only instruct ourselves through her lessons, 
and that the whole art of reasoning consists in continuing as she 
has compelled us to commence." Keeping natural philosophy 
apart from the doctrines of revelation, 1 never assailed the last, 
but I contended that by the first no accurate reasoner could arrive 
at the existence of the soul as a third principle of being equally 
distinct from mind and body. That by a miracle man might live 
again, was a question of faith and not of understanding. I left 
faith to religion, and banished it from philosophy. How define 
with a precision to satisfy the logic of philosophy what was to live 
"again ? The body 1 We know that the body rests in its grave till 
by the process of decomposition its elemental parts enter into other 
forms of matter. The mind ? But the mind was as clearly the re- 
sult of the bodily organization as the music of the harpsichord is 
the result of the instrumental mechanism. The mind shared the 
decreptitude of the body in extreme old age, and in the full vigor 
of youth a sudden injury to the brain might forever destroy the in- 
tellect of a Plato or a Shakspeare, But the third principle — the soul 
— the something lodged within the body, which yet was to survive 
it? Where was the soul hid out of the ken of the anatomist 1 
When philosophers attempted to define it, were they not compelled 
to confound its nature and its actions with those of the mind ? 
Could they reduce it to the mere moral sense, varying accordii 
education, circumstances, and physical constitution] But even the 
moral sense in the most virtuous of men may be swept away by a 
fever. Such at the time I now speak of were the views I held. 



A STRAXGE STORY. 9 

Views certainly not original nor pleasing ; but I cherished them 
willi as fond a tenacity as if they had been consolatory truths <>f 
i I was the first discoverer. I was intolerant to those who 
maintained opposite doctrines — despised theim as irrational, or dis- 
liked them as insincere. Certainly if I had fulfilled the ci 
which my ambition predicted — become the founder of a new school 
in pathology, and summed up my theories in academical lectures, 
i should have added another authority, however feeble, to the sects 
which circumscribe the interests of man to the life which has 
close in his grave. 
Possibly thai which I have called my intellectual pride was 
i nourished than 1 should have been willing to grant by that 
self-reliance which an unusual degree of physical power is apl to 
bestow. Nature had blest me with the thews of an athlete. Among 
the hardy youths of the Northern Athens I had been preemin 
distinguished for feats of activity and strength. ^Iy mental labors 
and the anxiety which is inseparable from the conscientious re- 
sponsibilities of the medical profession, kept my health below 
par of keen enjoyment, but had in no way diminished my rare mus- 
cular force. I walked through the crowd with the firm step and 
lofty crest of the mailed knight of old, who felt himself, in biscase- 
menl of iron, a match against numbers. Thus the sense of a v. -bust 
individuality, strong alike in disciplined reason and animal vigor — 
habituated to aid ol ling no aid for itself — contribute! 

render me imperious in will and arrogant in opinion. Nor ' 
such defects injurious to me in my profession ; on the contrary, 
aided as they were by a calm manner, and a presence not, without 
that kind of dignity which is the livery of self-esteem, the 
to impose respect and inspire trust. 



CR AFTER II. 



I had been about six years at L . when I became suddenly 

involved in a controversy with Dr. Lloyd. Just as this ill-fated 
man appeared at the culminating point, of his professional 
he had the imprudence to proclaim himself not only an enthusi 
advocate of mesmerism, as a curative process, but an arden 

■ of the reality of somnambular clairvoyance as an invaluable 
of certain privileged organizations. To these doctrines I stern- 
ly opposed myself — the more sternly, perhaps. on these 
doctrines Dr. Lloyd founded an argument for the existence of soul, 
independent of mind, as cf m d built thereon a superstruc- 
ture of physiological phantasies, which, could it be substantiated, 
would replace every system of metaphysics on which recognized 
philosophy condescends to disp 



10 A STRANGE STORY. 

About two years before he became a disciple rather of Puysegjur 
than Mesroer (for Mesnierhad little faith in that gift of dairvox 
of which Puysegur was, I believe, the first audacious assertory Dr. 
Lloyd had been afflicted with the lnss of a wife many years younger 
than himself, and to whom he had been tenderly attached. And 
this bereavement, in directing the hopes that consoled him to a 
world beyond the grave, had served perhaps to render him more 
credulous of the phenomena in which lie greeted additional proofs 
of purely spiritual existence. Certainly, if, in controverting the 
notions of another physiologist, I had restricted myself to that fair 
antagonism which belongs to. scientific disputants anxious only for 
the truth, I should need no apology for sincere conviction and hon- 
est argument; but when, with condescending good-nature, as if to 
a man much younger than himself, who was ignorant of the pheno- 
mena which he nevertheless denied, Dr. Lloyd invited me to attend 
his seances and witness his cures, my amour propre became roused 
and nettled, and it seemed to me necessary to put- down what I as- 
serted to be too gross an outrage on common sense to justify the 
ceremony of examination. I wrote, therefore, a small pamphlet mi 
the subject, in which I exhausted all the weapons that irons 
lend to contempt. Dr. Lloyd replied, and as he was no very skill- 
ful arguer, his reply injured him perhaps more than my assault. 
Meanwhile, I had made some inquiries as to the moral character of 
his favorite clairvoyants. i imagined that I had learned enough 
to justify me in treating them as flagrant cheats, and himself as 
their egregious dupe. 

Low Town soon ranged itself, with very few exceptions, on my 
side. The Hill at first seemed disposed to rally round its insulted 
ician, and to make the dispute a party question, in which the 
Hill would have been signally worsted, when suddenly the same 
lady paramount, who had secured to Dr. Lloyd the smile of the 
Eminence, spoke forth against him, and the Eminence frowned. 

" Dr. Lloyd," said the Queen of the Hill, " is an amiable creature, 
but on this subject decidedly cracked, ('racked poets may be all 
the better for being cracked ; cracked doctors are dangerous. Be- 

5, in deserting that old-fashioned routine, his adherenci 
which made his claim to the Hill's approbation; and unsettling 
the mind of the Hill with wild revolutionary theories, Dr. LI 
has betrayed the principles on which the Hill' itself rests its s 
foundations. Of those principles Dr. Fenwick has made bin 
champion; and the Hill is bound to support him. There, the 
question is settled !" 

And it was settled. % 

From the moment Mrs. Colonel Poyntz thus issued the word of 
command, Dr. Lloyd was demolished His pr; 
well as bis repute. Mortification or anger brought on a stroke of 
paralysis, which, disabling my opponent, put an end to our con- 
troversy. An obscure Dr. Jones, who had been the special pupil 



A STRANGE STORY. 11 

and protege" of Dr. Lloyd, offered himself as a candidate for the 
Mill's tongues and pulses. The Hill gave him little encoui 

mini. It mi'-;' more tuspended iis electoral privileges, and, with- 
out insisting on calling me up to ii, ifa quietly called roe in when- 
ever its health needed other advice than that of its visiting apothe- 
cary. Again it invited me. sometimes to dinner, often to tea. And 
again ^Iiss Brabazon assured me by a sidelong? glance that ;, 
no fault of hers if I were still single. 

I had almost forgotten the dispute which had obtained for n 
conspicuous a triumph, when one winter's night 1 was roused from 
sleep by a, summons to attend Dr. Lloyd, who, attacked by a se 
stroke a few hours previously, had, on recovering sense, expr< 
a vehement desire to consult the rival by whom he had sutler, 
severely. 1 dressed myself in haste ami hurried to hi 

A February night, sharp and bitter. An iron-gray frost below 
— a spectral melancholy moon- above. I had to ascend the Abbey 
Hill by a steep, blind lane between high walls. 1 passed through 

v gates, which stood wide open, into the garden ground 
surrounded the old Abbots' House At the end of a short 
drive the dark and gloomy building cleared itself from le; 
skeleton tire-, the moon resting keen and cold on its . ables 

and lofty chimney-stacks. An old woman servant received 
the door, and, without saying a word, led roe through a Ion-- low 
hall, and up dreary oak stairs, to a broad landing, at which 
i d for a moment, listening. Round and about hall, stain 
and landing, were ranged the dead specimens of the savage world 
which it had ben the pride of the naturalist's. life to collect. Close 
where 1 stood yawned the open jaws of the fell anaconda — its 
lower coils hid, as they rested on the floor below, by the winding of 
the massive stairs. Against the didl wainscot wails were pend 
cases stored with grotesque unfamiliar mummies, seen imperfe 
by the moon that shot through the window-panes, and the candle 
in the old woman's hands. And as now she turned towards me. 
nodding her signal to follow, and went on up the shadowy pas 
rows of gigantic birds — ibis and vulture, and huge sea glaucus— 
glared at me in the false life of their angry eyes. 

So I entered the sick-room, and the first glance told me that my 
art was powerless there. 

The children of the stricken widower were round his 

bed, the eldest apparently aboul fifteen, the ybungesl four; one lu- 
ll — the only female child — was cli i her father's I 
her face pressed to his bosom, and in that room her sobs alone 
were loud. 

As I passed the threshold Dr. Lloyd lifted his face, which had 
been bent over the weeping child, and gazed on me with an as; 
of strange glee, which I failed to interpret. Then, as [ stoli 
ward hi. u softly and slowly, he pressed his lips on the long 

that, streamed wild over his breast, motioned to a nurse who 



12 A STRANGE STORY. 

stood beside his pillow to take the child away, and, in a voice 
clearer than I could have expected in one on whose brow lay the 
unmistakable hand of death, he bade the nurse and the children 
quit the room. All went sorrowfully, but silently, save the little 
girl, who, borne off in the nurse's arms, continued to sob as if her 
heart were breaking. * 

I was not prepared for a scene so affecting ; it moved me to the 
quick. My eyes wistfully followed the children, so soon to be 
orphans, as one after one went out into the dark chill shadow, and 
amidst the bloodless forms of the dumb bride nature, ranged in 
grisly vista beyond the death-room of man. And when the last in- 
fant shape had vanished, and the door closed with a jarring click, 
my sight wandered loiteringly around the chamber before I could 
bring myself to fix it on the broken form, beside which I now stood 
in all that glorious vigor of frame which had fostered the pride of 
my mind. 

In the moment consumed by my mournful survey. the whole. 
aspect of the place impressed itself ineffaceably on life-long remem- 
brance. Through the high, deep-sunken-casement, acrossj which 
the thin, faded curtain was but half-drawn, the moonlight rushed, 
and then settled on the floor in one shroud of while glimmer, lost 
under the gloom of the death-bed. The roof was low, and seemed 
lower still by heavy intersecting beams, which 1 might have 
touched with my lifted hand. And the , tall, guttering caudle by 
the bed-side, and the flicker from the fire struggling out through 
the fuel but newly heaped on it, threw their reflection on the ceiling 
just over my head in a reek of* quivering blackness, like an angry 
cloud. 

Suddenly 1 felt my arm grasped, with his left hand (the rigbl 
side was already lifeless) ; the dying man drew me toward him 
nearer and nearer, till his lips almosl touched my car. And, in a 
voice now firm, now splitting into gasp and hiss, thus he said: 

"I have summoned you to gaze on your own work! You have 
stricken down my life at the moment when it was most needed by my 
children, and most serviceable to mankind. Had I lived a few 
years longer, my children would have entered on manhood, safe 
from the temptations of want and undejectod by the charity of 
strangers. Thanks to you, they will be penniless orphans. 
Fellow-creatures afflicted by maladies your pharmacopoeia had 
failed to reach, came to me for relief, and they found it. ' The ef- 
fect of imagination,' you say. What matters, if I directed the 
imagination to cure? Now you have mocked the unhappy ones 
out of their" last chance of life. They will suffer and perish. 
Did you believe me in error? Still* you knew that my object 
was research into truth. You employed against your brother in 
art venomous drugs and a poisoned probe. Look at me ! Are 
you satisfied witb your work ? " 

I sought to draw back and pluck my arm from the dying man's 



A STRANGE STORY. 13 

grasp. I could not do so without using a force that would have 
inhuman. His lips drew nearer stiil to my ear. 

" Vain pretender, do not boast that you brought a genius for 
eji-Tani to the seryice of science. Science is lenient to all who 

riment as the test of conjecture. You axe of th< 
which inquisitors are made. You cry that truth is profane when 
your dogmas arc questioned. In your shallow presumption you 
have meted the dominions of nature, and where your eye halts 
its vision, you say, 'There, nature musl in the bigotry 

which adds crime to presumption, you would stone the discoverer 
who, in annexing new realms to her chart, unsettles your arbitrary 
landmarks. Verily, retribution shall await you. In those spaces 
which your sight has disdained to explore you shall yourself he a 
lost, ami bewildered straggler. Hist ! I see "them already ! The 
gibbering phantoms are gathering round you !" 

The man's voice stopped abruptly ; his eye fixed in a glazing 
stare; his hand relaxed its hold; he fell back on his pillow. 1 
stole from the room ; on the landing-place J met the nurse and the 
old woman servant. Happily the children were not there. But 1 
heard the wail of the female child from some room not far distant. 

I whispered hurriedly to the nurse, "All is over!" — pa 
under the jaws of the vast anaconda — and on through the blind 
lane between the dead walls — mi through the ghastly streets, under 
Jiastly moon — went back to my solitary home. 



CHAPTER III. 



-It. was some time before I could shake off the impression made 
on me by the words and look of that dying man. 

not that my conscience upbraided me. What had I 
I Denounced that which I held, in common with most men 
of sense in or out of my profession, to be one ot those illusions by 
which quackery draws profit from the wonder of ignorance. Was 
i io blame if 1 had refused to treat with the grave .respect due to 
rted discovery in legitimate science pretensions to powers akin 
to the fables of wizards] was 1 to descend from the Acad< i 

reus science to examine whether a slumbering sibyl could read 

from a book placed at her back, or tell me at L what at that 

moment was being done by my friend at the Antipodes '. 

And whar though Dr. Lloyd himself might be a worthy and 
si man, and a sincere believer in the extravagances for which 
he demanded an equal credulity in others, do not honest men even- 
day incur the penally of ridicule, if, from a defect of good sense. 
make themselves ridiculous .' Could 1 bave f< that a 

satire so justly provoked would indict so deadly a wound ? Was I 
inhumanly barbarous because the antagonist destroyed was morbid- 



\ 

14 A STRANGE STORY. 

ly sensitive ? My conscience, therefore, made me no reproach, and 
the public was as little severe as my conscience. The public had 
been with me in our contest — the public knew nothing of my op- 
ponent's death-bed accusations — the public knew only that I had 
attended him in his last moments — it admired the respect to his 
memory which I evinced in the simple tomb that I placed over 
his remains, inscribed with an epitaph that did justice to his in- 
contestible benevolence and integrity :— above all, it saw me 
walk beside the bier that bore him to his grave — it praised the 
energy with which I set on foot a subscription for his orphan child- 
ren, and the generosity with which I headed that subscription by 
a sum that was large in proportion to my means. 

To that sum I did not, indeed, limit my contribution. The sobs 
of the poor female child rang still on my heart. As her grief had 
been keener than that of her brothers, so she might be subjected 
to sharper trials than they, when the time came for her to tight her 
own way through the world; therefore 1 secured to her, but with 
such precautions that l! ;; d not be traced to my hand, a 

sum to accumulate till she was of marriageable age, and which 
then might suffice for a small wedding portion ; or, if she remain- 
ed single, for an income that would place her beyond the tempta- 
tion of want, or the bitterness of a servile dependence. 

That Dr. Lloyd should have died in poverty was a matter of sur- 
prise at first, for his profits during the last few years had been con- 
siderable, and his mode of life far from extravagant. Jiut just 
before the date of our controversy he had been induced to assist. 
the brother of his lost wife, who was a junior partner in a London 
bank, with the loan of his accumulated savings. This man proved 
dishonest; he embezzled that and oilier sums intrusted to him, 
and tied the country. The same sentiment of conjugal affection 
which had cost Dr. Lloyd his fortune kept him silent as to the 
cause of the loss. It was reserved for his executors to disc 
the treachery of the brother-in-law whom he, poor man, would 
have generously screened from additional disgrace. 

The mayor of L . a wealthy and public-spirited merchant, 

purchased the museum which Dr. Lloyd's passion for natural his- 
tory had induced him to form ; and the'sum thus obtained, tog* 
with that raised by subscription, sufficed, not only to discharge all 
debts due by the deceased, but to insure to the orpans the benefits 
of an education that might tit at least the boys to enter fairly arm- 
ed into that game, more of skill than of chance, in which Fortune 
is really so little blinded that we see, in each turn of her wheel, 
Wealth and its honors pass away from the lax fingers of ignorance 
and sloth to the resolute grasp of labor and knowledge. 

Meanwhile a relation in a distant country undertook the ci ■ 
of the orphans; they disappeared from the scene, and the tide 
life in a commercial community soon flowed over the place which the 
dead man had occupied in the thoughts of his bustling town-folks. 



A STRANGE STORY. 15 

One person at L , and only one, appeared to share and inherit 

the rancor with which the poor physician bad denounced me on his 
death-bed. It was a gentleman named Vigors, distantly relat 
the deceased, and who had been, in point of station, the must emi- 
nent of Dr. Lloyd's partisans in the controversy with himself; a 
man of no great scholastic acquirements ; but of respectable abili- 
ties, lie bad that kind of power which the world concedes. to 
respectable abilities, when accompanied with a temper more, than 
usually stern, and a moral character more than usually austere. 
His ruling passion was to sit in judgment upon others ; and. b 
a magistrate, he was the most active and the most rigid of ail 
magistrates L had ever known. 

Mr. Vigors at first spoke of me with great bitterness, as ha 
ruined, and in tact killed, his friend by the uncharitable and unfair 
acerbity which he declared I had brought into what ought to h 
be in an unprejudiced examination of a simple matter of fact. But 
finding no sympathy in these charges, he bad the discretion to 
cease from making them, contenting himself with a solemn shall 
his head if he heard my name mentioned in terms of praise, and an 
oracular sentence or two, such as. "Time will show ; " " All's well 
that ends well," etc. Mr. Vigors, however, mixed very little in 
mqre convivial intercourse of the towns-people, lie called himself 
domestic; but, in truth, he was ungenial. A still' man, star 
with self-esteem, He thought that his dignity of station was not 
sufficiently acknowledged by the merchants of Low Town, and his 
superiority of intellect not sufficiently recognized by the occlusives 
of the Hill. His visits were, therefore, chiefly confined to the 
houses of neighboring squares, to whom his reputation as a, magis- 
trate, conjoined with his solemn exterior, made him one of these 
oracles by which men consent to be awed on condition that the awe 
is not often inflicted. And though he opened his house three times 
a week, ii was only to a select few, whom be first fed and then 
biologized. Electro-biology was very naturally the special enter- 
tainment of a man whom no intercourse ever pleased in which bis 
will was not imposed upon others. Therefore h ■ only invited to 
hie persons whom he could stare into the abnegation of their 
s, willing to say that beef was lamb, or brandy was coffee, ac- 
cording as he willed them to say. And, no doubt, the persons 
asked would have said any thing he willed so long as they had. in 
substance .as well as in idea, the beef and the brandy, the lamb 
and the Odffee. I did not, then, often meet Mr. Vigors at die b< 
in which I occasionally spent my evenings. I heard of his enn i y 
as a man safe in his home hears the sough of the, wind on the com- 
mon without. If now and then we chanced to pass in the streets, 
he looked up at me (he was a small man walking on tip-toe) with 
the sullen scowl of dislike. And from tin- heighj of my stature 1 
dropped upon the small man and sullen scowl th ■ affable smile of 
supreme indifference. 



16 A STRANGE STORY. 



CHAPTER IV. 



I had now arrived at that age when an ambitious man, satisfied 
with his progress in the world without, begins to feel, in the crav- 
ings of unsatisfied affection, the void of a solitary hearth. I re- 
solved to marry, and looked out for a wife. I had never hitherto 
admitted into my life the passion of love. In fact, T had regarded 
thai passion, even in my earlier youth, with a certain superb con- 
tempt — as a malady engendered by an effeminate idleness, and 
red by a sickly imagination. 

I wished to find in a wife a rational companion and affectionate 
and trust-worthy friend. No views of matrimony could be less 
antic, more soberly sensible, than those which I conceived. 
Nor were my requirements mercenary or presumptous. I oared 
not for fortune ; I asked nothing fr6m connections. My ambition 
was exclusively professional ; it could be served by no titled kin- 
dred, accelerated by no wealthy dower. I was no slave to beauty. 
I did not seek in a wife the accomplishments of a finishing school- 
teacher. 

Having decided that the time had come to select my helpmate, I 
fmagined that I should find no difficulty in a choice that my reason 
would approve. But day upon day, week upon week passed away, 
and though among the families 1 visited there were many young 
ladies who possessed more than the qualifications with which 1 
conceived that I should be amply contented, and by whom I might 
flatter myself that my proposals would not be disdained, 1 saw not 
one to whose life-long companionship I should not infinitely have 
preferred the solitude I found so irksome. 

One evening, in returning home from visiting a poor female 
patient whom I attended gratuitously, and whose case demanded 
more thought than that of any other in my lists — for though it 
had been considered hopeless in the hospital, and she had come 
home to die, I felt certain that I could save her. and she seemed 
ering under my care — one evening, it was the 12th of May, 
I found myself just before the gates of the house that had been in- 
habited by Dr. Lloyd. Since his death the house had been unoc- 
cupied; the rent asked for it by the proprietor was considered 
high; and from the sacked Hill on which it was situated shy ue.-s 
or pride banished the wealthier traders. The garden gates stood 
wide open, as they had stood in the winter night on which I had 
passed through them to the chamber of death. The remembrance 
of that death-bed came vividly before me, and the dying man's 
fantastic threat rang again in my startled ears. An irresistible im- 
pulse, which I could not then account for, and which I cannot ac 
count for now — act impulse the reverse of that which usually makes 



A STRANGE STORY. 17 

ns turn away with quickened step from a spot that recalls associa- 
tions of pain — urged me on through the ojpen gates, up the neg- 
lected, grass-grown road; urged me to look, under the westering 

sun of the joyous spring, at that house which I had never seen but 
in the gloom of a winter night, under the" melancholy moon. As 
the building came in sight, with dark red bricks, partially over- 
grown with ivy, 1 perceived that it was no longer unoccupied. I 

saw forms passing athwart the open windows; a van laden with 
articles of furniture stood before the door; a servant in livery was 
beside it giving directions to the men who were unloading, livi- 
dently some family was just entering into possession. I felt some- 
what ashamed of my trespass and turned round quickly to retrace 
my steps. 1 had retreated but a few yards when I saw before me, 
at the entrance gates, Mr. Vigors, walking beside a lady apparently 
of middle age; while just at baud a path cut through the shrubs 
gave a view of a small wicket-gate at the end of the grounds. I 
felt unwilling not only to meet the lady, whom 1 guessed to be the 
new occupier, and to whom I should have to make a somewhat 
awkward apology for intrusion, bat still more to encounter the 
scornful look of Mr. Vigors, in what appeared to my pride a false 
or undignified position. Involuntarily, therefore, I turned down 
tii; path which would favor my escape unobserved. When about 
half way between the house and the wicket-gate the shrubs that 
had clothed the path on either side suddenly opened to the 
bringing into view a circle of sward, surrounded by irregular 
incuts of did brick-work, partially covered with ferns, creepers, or 
rock-plants, weeds, or wild-flowers, and in the centre of the circle 
a fountain, or rather water-cistern, over which was built a Gothic 
monastic domi , lopy, resting on small Norman columns, tame- 

worn, dilapidated. A large willow overhung this unmis I ikable relic 
of the ancient abbey. There was an air of antiquity! romance, 
legend about this spot, so abruptly disclosed amidst the delicate 
green of the young shrubberies. But it was not the ruined wall 
nor the Gothic well that chained my footstep and charmed my 
eyes. 

It was a solitary human form — seated there amidst the mournful 

ruins. 

The form was so slight, the face so young, that at the first glance I 
murmured to myself, "What a lovely chUd! " But as my eye lin- 
gered, it recognized in the upturned, thoughtful brow, in the sweet, 
serious aspect, in the rounded outlines of that slender shape, the 
inexpressible dignity of virgin woman. 

A book was on her lap, at her feci a little basket, half filled with 
violets and blossoms culled from the rock plants that nestled ami 1st 
the ruins. Behind her, the willow, like an emerald waterfall, 
showered down its arching abundant green, bough after bough, from 
the tree-top to the sward, descending in wavy verdure, bright to- 



18 A STRANGE STOBY. 

ward the summit, in the smile of the setting sun, and darkening 
into shadow as it neared the earth. 

She did not notice, she did not se es were fixed upon 

the horizon, where it sloped furtbe ace, above the tree-tops 

and the ruins — fixed so intently that mechanically I turned my own 
gaze to follow the flight of hers. It was as if she watched for 
some expected familiar sign to grow out from the depths of heaven; 
perhaps to greet, before other eyes beheld it, the ray of the earliest star. 
The birds dropped from the boughs on the turf around her, so 
fe^lessly that one alighted amidst the flowers in the Hit!" basket • 
at her feet. There is a famous German poem, which 1 had read in 
my youth, called -'.The Maiden ft d," Variously supposed 

to' lie an allegory of Spring, or of Poetry, loice 

of commentators: it seemed to me as if the poem had 1 een made 
I'm- her. VerUy, indeed, in her poet or pain en an 

image equally true to either of those adorners of the earth; both 
outwardly a delight to sense. ;, el both wakeningup thoughts within 
us, not sad, but akin to sadness. 

I heard now a step behind me, and a voice which J r< 
to be thai of Mr. Vigors. 1 broke from the charm by which 1 had 
been so lingeringly spell-bound, hurried on con. 
wicket-ga1 descended into 

common thoroughfare. And tin i n be- 

I hi the opposite side hi mrcb-spires ; a few 

more, and the bustling streets ! How immeasurabl; 
yet how familiarly near to the World in which 
beingis thai fairy land of romance wl 
earth before us, when Love steals 

be hard earth again as Love smili oil' 






And before that evening 1 had Vigi rs with su- 

preme indifference — what importance he now assumed in I 

The lady with whom I had seen him was doubtless the new ti 
of that house in which the young creature by whom my heart 
si; strangely moved evidently had her home. Most probabb 
relation between the two ladies v. i of mother and 

Mr. Vigors, the friend of one, might himself he related to both 
— might prejudice them against me — might — here, starting up, I 
snapped the thread of conjecture, for right before my eyes, on the 
table beside which I had seated myself on entering tne room, lay 
a card of invitation : 

Mas. Poyktz. 
At Ji 
Wednesday, May 15th. 
Early. 



A STRANt.sE STORY. 19 

Mrs. Poyntz— Mrs. Colonel Poyntz ! the Queen of the Hill. 
There at her house, I could not fail \o learn all aboul the new- 
comers, who could never without her sanction have settled on her 
domain. 

I hastily changed my dress, and, with heating heart, wound my 
way up the venerable eminence. , 

I did not pass through the lane which led direct to Abbots' 
/louse (for that old building Btood solitary amidst its grounds, a 
little apart from the spacious platform on which the if the 

Hill was concentered), but up the broad causeway, with visteed gas- 
lamps ; the gayer shops still unclosed, the tide of busy life only 
slowly ebbing from the still animated street, on to a square, in 
which the lour main thorough fares of the city Converged, and which 
formed the boundary of Low Town. A huge dark archway, 
popularly called Monk's Gate, al the angle of this square, made 
the entrance to Abbey Hill. When the arch was passed, one fell 
at once that one was in the town of a former day. The pavement 
was narrow and rugged; the shops small, their upper stories pro- 
jecting, with here and there, plastered fronts, quaintly arabesqued. 
An ascent, short, hut Steep and tortuous, conducted at once to the 
old Abbey Church, nobly situated in a vast quadrangle, round 
which were the genteel and gloomy dwellings of the Areop 
of the Hill. More genteel and less gloomy than the res) — li- 
the windows and flowers on the balcony — stood forth, flanked by a 
garden wall tit either side, the mansion of Mrs. Colonel Poyntz. 

As I entered the drawing-room I heard the voice of the hostess ; 
it was a voice clear, decided, metalic, hell-like, uttering these 
words: "Taken Abbots' House ! I will tell you." 



CHAPTER VI. 



Mrs. Poyntz was seated on the sofa; at her right sat, fat 
Mrs. Bruce, who was a Seoul) lord's grand-daughter^ at her 
hi; thin Miss Brabazon, who was an Irish baronet's niece. — 
Around her — a tew seated, many standing — had grouped all the 
guests, save two old gentlemen, who remained aloof with Col. 
Poyntz, near the whist-table, waiting for the fourth old gentle- 
man, who was to make up the rubber, hut who was at that mo- 
ment, spell-bound in the magic circle, which curiosity, that strong- 
s' social demons, had attracted round the hostess. 

"Taken Abbots' House? 1 will tell you. Ah, Dr. Penwick ! 
charmed to see you. You know Abbots' House is let at last.' 
Well, Miss Brabazon, dear, you ask who has taken it. I will fell 
you — a particular friend of mine." 

" Indeed ! Dear me ! " said Miss Brabazon, looking confused. 
" I hope I did not say anything to — " 



I 

20 A STRANGE STORY. 

" Wound ray feelings. Not in the least. Ton said your un- 
cle. Sir P helim, had a coach-maker named Asbleigb, thai Ashleigh 
was an uncommon name, though Ashley was a common one ; 
you intimated an appalling suspicion thai the Mrs. Ashleigh who 
had come to the Hill was the coach-maker's widow. 1 relieve 
vour mind — she is not ; she is the widow of Gilbert Ashleigh, of 
Kirby Hall." 

" Gilbert Ashleigh," said one of t lie guests, a bachelor, whose 
parents had reared him for the church, but who, like poor Gold- 
smith, did not think himself good enough for it — a mistake 
of over-modesty, For he matured into a very harmless crea- 
ture. "Gilbert Ashleigh. I wa8 at' Oxford with him — a gen- 
tleman commoner of Christ Church. Good- looking man — very ; 
sapped — " 

"Sapped! what's that? Oh. studied. That he did all his 
life He married young — Anne Cbaloner; she and I were girls 
together; married the same year. They settled at Kirby Hall — 
nice place, but dull. I'ovntz and I spent a Christmas there. 
Ashleigh, when he tall ed. was charming, but he talked very lit lie. 
Anne, when she talked, was common-place, and she talked very 
much. Naturally, poor thing, she was so happy, i'oyntz and 1 
did not spend another Christmas there. Friendship is long, but 
life is short. Gilbert Ash leigb's life was short indeed; he died 
in the fifth year of his marriage, leaving only one child, a girl. 
Since then, though I never spent another Christmas at Kirby Hall. 
] have frequently spent a day there, doing my besl t<> cheer up 
Anne. She was no longer talkative, poor dear. Wrapt up in her 
child, who has now grown into a beautiful girl of eighteen — such 
eyes, her father's — the real dark blue — r. creature, but 

delicate; not, 1 h< umptive, but delicate; quiet — wants 

life. My .lane adores her. Jane has life enough for iv. 

"Is Miss Ashleigh the heiress to Kirby Hall/'" asked Mrs. 
Bruce, who had an unmarried son. 

"No. Kirby Hall passed to Ashleigh Sumner, the male heir, 
a cousin". And the luckiest of cousins ! Gilbert's sister, si 
woman (indeed, all show), had contrived to. marry her kinsman, 
Sir Walter Ashleigh Haughton, the head of the Asbleigb family, — 
just the man made To be the reflector of a showy woman ! He 
died years ago. leaving an only son, Sir James, who was killed 
last winter by a fall from his horse. And here, again, Asbleigb 
Sumner proved to be the male heir at law. During the mino 
of this fortunate youth, Mrs. Ashleigh had rented Kirby Hall of 
his guardian. He is now just coming- of age, and that is why she 
leaves. Lilian Ashleigh will have, however, a very good for- 
tune — is what we genteel paupers call an heiress. I> there any 
thing more you want to know?" 

Said thin Miss Brabazon, who took advantage of her thinness 



A STRANGE STORY. 21 

to wedge herself into every one's affairs. "A most interesting 
account. But what brings Mrs. Ashleigh here 

Answered Mrs-. Colonel Poyntz, with the military frankness by 
which she kept her company in goo3 limnor, as well as ;> 

" Why do any of us come here 1 Can any one tell me 

There was a blank silence, which the hostess herself was the 
first to break. 

" None of us present can say why we came here. I can tell 
you why Mrs. Ashleigh came. Our neighbor, Mr. Vigors, is a 
distant connection of the late Gilbert Ashleigh, one of the execu- 
tors of his will, and the guardian to the heir-at-law. About 
days ago Mr. Vigors called on me. for the first tine since 1 fi 
my duty to express my opinion about the strange vagaries of our 
poor dear friend, Dr. Lloyd. And when he bad taken his chair. 
just where you now sir. Dr. Fen wick, he said, in a sepulchral 
voice, stretching out two fingers, so. as if I were one of the v 
do-y ou-call- 'ems who go to sleep when he bids them, ' marm, you 
know Mrs. Ashleigh ! Von correspond with her.' ' Yes. Mr. 
Vigors ; is there any crime in that I You look as if there v, 
' No crime, marm,' said the man, quite seriously. ' Mrs. Ashleigh 
is a lady of amiable temper, and you are a woman of masculine 
understanding.' " 

Here there was a general titter. Mrs. Colonel Poyntz hushed 
it with a look of severe surprise. "What, is thereto laugh at ? 
All women would be men if I hey could. If my tinders 
masculine, so much the heller for me. 1 thanked Mr. Vigor 
his very handsome compliment, and he then went on to say, 'that 
though Mrs. Ashleigh would now have to leave Kirov Hall in a 
very few weeks, she seemed quite unable to make up her mind 
where to go: that ii had occurred to him that, as Miss Ashleigh 
was now of an age to see a little of the world, she ought not to 
remain buried in the country ; while, being of quiet mind, she re- 
coiled from the dissipation of London. Between the seclusion of 

the one and the turmoil of the other, the society of L was a 

happy medium, fie should he glad of my opinion. He had put 
off asking for it, because he owned his belief that I had behaved 
unkindly to his lamented friend. Dr. Lloyd; but he now found 
himself in rather an awkward position. His ward, young Ash- 
leigh Sumner, had prudently resolved on fixing his country resi- 
dence at Kirby Hall, rather than at Haughton Park, the much 
larger seat, which had so suddenly passed to his inheritance, and 
which he could not occupy without a vast establishment, that to 
a single man, so young, would be but a cumbersome and costly 
trouble. Mr. Vigors was pledged to his ward to obtain him pos 
session of Kirby Hall the precise day agreed upon, but Mrs. Ash- 
leigh did not seem disposed to stir — could not decide where 
to go. Mr. Vigors was loth to press hard on his old friend's wi- 
dow and child. It was a thousand pities Mrs. Ashleigh could not. 



22 A STRANGE STORY. 

make up her mind ; she had had ample time for preparation. A 
word from me, at this moment, would be an effective kindness. 
Abbots' House was vacant, with a garden so extensive that the 
ladies would not miss the country. Another party was after it. 
but — ' 'Say no more,' I cried; 'no party hut my dear old 
friend, Anne Ashleigh, shall have Abbots' House. So thai ques- 
tion is settled.' I dismissed Mr. Vigors, sent for my carriage — 
that is, for Mr, Barker's yellow fly and his best horses — and 
drove that very day to Kirby Ball, which, though nol in this 
co inty, is only twenty-five miles distant. I slept there that night. 
By nine o'clock the bext morning I had secured Mrs. Ashleteh's 
consent, on the promise to save her a ! trouble, came back, sent 
for the landlord, settled the rent, lease. en | ; engaged 

Forbes' vans to remove the furniture from Kirby Hall, told 
Forbes to begin with the beds. Wljen her own bed came, which 
was last night, Anne Ashleigh came tool 1 have seen her this 
morning. She likes the place, so does Li ian. I asked them in 

you all here to-night ; but Mrs. AshleigTl was tired, 
last of the furniture was to arrive in-day ; and thoi 
Ashleigh is an undecided character, she is not inactive. But i is 
not only the planning where t«> put tables and chairs tl 
have tired her to-day : she lias had Mr. Vigors on her hand- all 
the afternoon, and he has been — here's her little n I are 

the words? no doubt, ' mosl : oppressive' — no, 

' most kind and attentive' — different won', ied t'» -Mr- 

Vigors, they mean the same thil 

"And now next Monday — we must leave them in peace till 
then — you will all call on the Ashleif e Hill knows what 

is due to itself; it cannot delegate to Mr. Vigors, a respectable 
man indeed, but who does no; belong to its set, its own pi 
course of action toward- those who would shelter themsel ves on 
its bosom. The Hill cannot he kind and attentive, overpowering 
or oppressive, by proxy. To those new horn into its circle 

it cannot he an indifferent godmother; it has toward them all the 
feelings of a mother, or of a Btep-1 <■ may be. 

Where it says, « This can be no chi d of mine,' it is a step-mother 
indeed ; but, in all those whom 1 have presented to its arms, it 
has hitherto. I am proud to say. recof arable acquai 

ces, and to them the Hill has been a Mother. And now, my dear 
Mr. Sloman, go to your rubber ; Poyntz is impatie h he 

don't show it. Miss Brabazon, love, oblige us at the piai 
thing gay, but not very noisy — Mr. Leopold Smytbe will turn the 
leaves for you. Mrs. Bruce, your own favoi vingt-un, 

with four dew recruits. Dr. Fenwick, you are like me. don't 
cards, and don't care for music; sit here, and talk or not 
you please, while I knit." 

The other guests thus disposed of, some at the card-tables, 
round the piano, 1 placed myself at Mrs. Poyntz's side, on u seat 



A STRANGE STORY. 23 

niched in the recess of a window, which an evening unusually 
warm for the month of May permitted to be left open. T 
next to one who had known Lilian ads a child, one from whom T 
had learned by whal sweet name to call the imago which my 
thoughts had already shrined. How much that I still long* 

She could tell me! But in what form of qui Id I 

lead to the subject, y el no! betray my absorbing interest in it ? T 
ing to speak, 1 felt as if stricken dumb ; stealing an unquiet gla 
toward the face hesidc me, and deeply impressed with that truth 
which the Hill had I ntly acknowledged, that Mr- 

Jonel Poyntz was a very superior woman — a very powerful creature. 

And there she sat knitting — rapidly, firmly : a woman some- 
what on the other side of forty, complexion a bronzed pah- 
hair a bronzed hrown, in strong ringlets, cropped short behind — 
handsome hair for a man: lips that, when (dosed, showed inflex- 
ible decision, when speaking, became supple and flexile with an 
humor and a vigilant fi es of a red hazel, quick hut 

steady ; observant, piercing, dauntless eyes; altogether a fine 
countenance — would have been a very tine countenance in a man; 
profile sharp, straight, clear-cut, with an expression, when in re- 
, like il'a! of a sphinx ; a frame robust, not corpulent, of mid- 
dle height, hut with an . e thai made her appear tall ; 
peculiarly white firm hands, indicative of vigorous health, not a 
vein visible on the surf 

Then 1 she sat knitting, knitting, and 1 by her side, gazing now 
on herself, now on her work, with a vague idea that the threads 
in th( ' my own web of love or of life were passing quick 

through tbose noiseless fingers. And. indeed, in every w< 
romance, the fondest, one of the Parcae is sure to be some matter- 
of-facl she, social Destiny, as little akin to romance itself — as was 
this worldly Queen of the Hill. 



CHAPTER VII. 



I HAVE given a sketch of the outward woman of Mrs. Colonel 
inner woman was a recondite mystery, dee]) as 
that of the sphinx, whose features her own resembled. But be- 
tween the outward and the inward woman there is ever a third 
woman — the conventional woman — such as the whole human being 
appears to the world — always mantled, sometimes masked. 

I am told that the tine people of London do not recognize the 
title of "Mrs. Colonel." If that be true, the fine people of Lon- 
don must be clearly in the wrong, for no people in the universe 
could be finer than the fine people of Abbey Hill ; and they con- 
sidered their sovereign had as good a right to the title of Mrs. 
Colonel as the Queen of England has to that of "our Gracious 
Lady." But Mrs. Poyntz herself never assumed the title of Mrs. 
Colonel; it never appeared on her cards any more than the title 



24 A STRANGE STORY. 

of " Gracious Lady" appears on the cards which convey the invi- 
tation that a Lord Steward or Lord Chamberlain is commanded 
by Her Majesty to issue. To titles, indeed, Mrs. Poyntz evinced 
no superstitious reverence. Two peeresses related to her, not 
distantly, were in the habit of paying her a yearly visit, which 
lasted two or three days. The Hill considered these visits an 
honor to its eminence. Mr. Poyntz never seemed to esteem them 
an honor to herself; never boasted of them ; never soughl to 
show off her grand relations, nor put herself the least oul of the 
way t<; receive them. Her mode of life was free from ostentation. 
Se had the advantage of being a few hundreds a year richer 
than anj other inhabitant of the Hill: but she did nut devote 
her superior resources to the invidious exhibition of superior 
splendor Like a wise sovereign, the revenues of her exchequer 
were to the benefit of her subjeots, and not to the vanity 

of egotistical parade. As no one else on the Hill kepi a carriage, 
site declined to keep one. Her entertainments were simple, but 
numerous. Twice a week she received the Hill, and wa> genu- 
inely at home to it. She contrived to make her parties prover- 
bial!; ble. The refreshments were of the same kind as 
those which the poorest of her old maids of honor might proffer; 
but they were better of their kind — the besl of their kind — 
besl tea, the besl lemonade, the best cakes. Her rooms 
bad an air of comfort which was peculiar to them. They 
looked like rooms accustomed to receive, and receive in a 
friendly way; well warmed, well lighted, card-tables and pi- 
ano in the place that made cards and music inviting. On 
walls a few old family portraits, and three or foci' oilier pie 
tupes be valuable, and- certainly pleasing — two Wat- 
teau's, a Canaletti, a Weenix — plenty of easy chairs and settees 
covered with a cheerful chintz. In the arrangement of the fur- 
niture generally, an indescribable careless elegance. She herself 
was studiously plain in dress, more conspicuously t'n-c from jew- 
elry and trinkets than any married lady on the Hill. But 1 have 
beard from those who were authorities on such a subject, that she 
was never seen in a dress of the last year's fashion. She adi 
the mode as it came out, just enough to show that she was a 
it was out; hut with a sober reserve, as much as to say - 1 
adopt the fashion as far as it suits myself; I do not permit the 
fashion to adopt me." In short, Mrs. Colonel Poyntz was some- 
times rough, sometimes coarse, always masculine: and yet, some- 
how or other, masculine in a womanly way ; but she was never 
vulgar, hecause never affected. It was impossible not to allow 
that she was a Ihorough gentlewoman, and she could do things 
thai lower other gentlewomen without any Iqss of -dignity. Thus 
she was an admirable mimic, certainly in itself the least lady-like 
condescension of humor. But when she mimicked, it was with 
so tranquil a gravity, or so royal a good-humor, that one could 



A STRANGE STORY. 25 

oiily say, "What talents for society dear Mrs. Colonel has!" 
As she was a gentlewoman emphatically, so the other colonel, the 
he-colonel) was emphatically a gentleman j rather shy, but not 
cold: bating trouble of every kind, pleased to seem a cipher in 
his own house. If the sole study of Mrs. Colonel had been to 
make her husband comfortable, she could not have succeeded bet- 
ter than by Bringing friends about him. ami then taking them off 
his hands. Colonel Poyntz, the he-oolonel, had seen in his youth 
actual service; hut had retired from his profession many years 
ago, shortly after his marriage. Be was a younger brother of one 
of the principal squires in the county; inherited the hoe- 
lived in, with some other valuable property in and about L . 

from an uncle ; was considered a good landlord ; and popular in 
Low Town, though he never interfered in its affairs. He was 
punctiliously neat in his dress; a, thin, youthful figure, crowned 
with a thick youthful wig. He never seemed to read anything 
hut the newspapers and the Meteorological Journal; was sup- 
posed to he the most weatherwise man in all L . lie had an- 
other intellectual predilection — whist. But in that he had less 
reputation for wisdom. Perhaps it requires a rarer combination 
of mental faculties to win an odd trick than to divine a fall in the 
glass. I'm- the rest, the he-colonel, many years older than his 
wife, despite the thin youthful figure, was an admirable aid-de- 
camp to the genera] in command, Mrs. Colonel ; and she could 
not have found one more obedient, more devoted, or more proud of 
a distinguished chief. 

In giving to Mrs. Colonel Poyntz the appellation of Queen of 
the Hill, let there he no mistake. She was not a constitutional 
sovereign ; her monarchy was absolute. All her proclamations 
had the force of laws. 

Such ascendency could not have been attained without consid- 
erable talents for acquiring and keeping it. Amidst all her off- 
hand, brisk, imperious frankness, she had the ineffable discrimin- 
ation of tact. Whether civil or rude, she was never civil or rude 
but what she carried public opinion along with her. Her knowl- 
edge of general society must have heen limited, as must he that 
of all female sovereigns. But she seemed gifted with an intuitive 
knowledge of human nature which she applied to her special am- 
bition of ruling it. I have not a doubt that if she had been sud- 
denly transferred, a perfect 9tranger, to the world of London, she 
would have soon forced her way to its selectest circles, and, when 
once there, held her own against a duchess. 

I have said that she was not affected ; this might he one cause 
of her sway over a set in which nearly every other female was try- 
ing rather to seem, than to lie, a somebody. 

Put if Mrs. Colonel Poyntz was not artificial, she was artful, or 
perhaps 1 might more justly say — artistic. In all she said and 
did there were conduct, system, plan. She could be a most ser- 



26 A STRANGE STORY. 

vioeable friend, a most damaging' enemy ; yet I believe she seldom 
indulged in strong likings or si rung hatreds. All was policy — a 
policy akin to that of a grand parly chief, determined to raise up 
those whom, for any reason of state it was prudent to favor, and 
to put down those whom, for any reason of state,- it was expedient 
to humble or to crush. 

Ever since the controversy with Dr. Lloyd, this lady had hon- 
ored me with her henignest countenance. And nothing could he 
more adroit than the manner in which, while imposing me mi others 
as an oracular authority, she sought to subject to her will the ora- 
cle itself. 

She was in the habit of addressing me in a sort of motherly 
way as if she had the deepest interest in my welfare, happiness 
and reputation. Ami thus, in every compliment, in every seeming 
mark of respect, she maintained the superior dignity of one who 
takes from responsible station the duty to encourage rising merit; 
so that, somehow or other, despite all that pride which made me 
believe that I needed no helping hand to advance or to clear my 
way through the world, I could nol shake oil' from my mind the 
impression that- I was faysteriously patronized by Mrs. Colonel 
Poyntz. 

We might have sat together five minutes, side by side — in si- 
lence as complete as ifi Trophorrius — when, wit! 
looking up from her work, Mrs. Poyntz said abruptly, 

"I am thinking about you, Dr. . And you — are think- 

ing about some other woman. Ungrateful i 

" Unjust- accusation ! My v< i should prove how in- 

tently my thoughts were fixed on yon, and on the weird web which 
springs under your hand in meshes that bewilder the gaze and 
snare the attention. 

Mrs. Poyntz looked i p at me for a. — one rapid gl. 

• if the bright red hazel eye — and said, 

"Was I really in your thoughts I Answer truly." 

" Truly, I answer, you were." 

" That is strange ! Who cai 

" AVho can it be ! What do you mean V 

"If you were thinking of me, it was in connection with • 
other person — some other person of my own sex. It is certainly 
not poor dear .Miss Brabazon. Wl 

Again the red eye shot over me, and I fell my cheek redden be- 
neath it. 

" Hush ! " she said, lowering her voice ; " you are in love ! " 

" In love ! — 1 ! Permit me to ask you why you think so % " 

" The signs are unmistakable ; you are altered in your man- 
ner, even in the ex; ression of your face, since I last saw you, 
your manner is generally quiet and observant, it .is now restless 
and distracted ; your expression of "ally proud and 

serene, it is now humbled arid troubled. Yoa have something on 



A STRANGE STdRY. 

your mind ! It is not anxiety for your reputation, that, is estab- 
lished ; nor for your fortune, that is made; it is not anxiety for a 
patient, or you would scarcely be here. But anxiety it is, an anx- 
iety that is remote from your profession, that tone! cart 
and is new to it!" 

I was startled, almost awed. But I tried to cove- my confu- 
sion With a forced laugh. 

" Profound observer ! Subtle analyst! Yon 
me that I must lie in love, though I did no1 suspi fore. 

But when I strive to conjecture the object, I am as much 
plefled as yourself; and with you, I ask, v, ' be V 

" Whoever il he," said Mrs. Poyntz, who had pat 
spoke, from her knitting, and now resumed ii very slowly 
very carefully, as if her mind an^J her knitting worked in ui . 
together. " Whoever it be, love in you would be serious ; and, 
with or without love, marriage is ■ thing o us all, It is 

not even pretty girl thai would suit Alh 

las! is there any pretty girl whom Allefi Pen wick would 
suit ?" 

"Tut ! Von. should be above the fretful vanity that lays traps 
for a compliment. Yes; the time te in your life and 

career when you would do well to marry. : 
that," she added, With a smile as if h j 1 a slight 

in earuest. The knitting here went on more decidedly, more 
quickly. 

u I do not yet see the person. No! 'Tis a pity Allen 
Fenwick, (whenever Mrs. Poyntz called me by my Christian 
name, she always assumed her majestic motherly manner), " a pity 
that, with your birth, energies, perseverence, talents, and, let me 
add, your advantages of manner and person — a pity that you did 
not choose a career that might achieve higher fortunes and louder 
fame than the most brilliant :an give to a provincial physi- 

cian. But in that very choice you interest me. My choice has 
been much the same. A small circle, but the first in it. Yet. had 
I been a man, or had my dear colonel been a man whom it was in 
the power of woman's art to raise one step higher in that meta- 
phorical ladder which is not the laddt ngels, why, then — 
what then ? No matter ! I am contented. or my ambition 
to .lane Do you not think her handsom 

"There can be no doubt of that," said I, carelessly and natu- 
rally. 

" I have settled Jane's lot in my own mind," resumed Mrs. 
Poyntz, striking firm into another row of the knitting. She will 
marry a country gentleman of lai He will go o Par- 

liament. She will study his advancement, as I study Poyntz's 
comfort. If he be clerer, she will help to make him a minister ; 
if he* be not clever, his wealth will make her a personage, and lift 
him into a personage's husband. And, now that you see I have 



28 A STRANGE STORY. 

no matrimonial designs on you, Allen Fen wick, think if it be worth 
while to confide in me. Possibly I may be useful—" 

" I know not bow to thank you. But, as yet I have nothing to 
confide." 

While thus saying, I turned my eyes toward the open window, 
beside which I sat. It was a beautiful, soft night. The May 
moon in all her splendor. The town stretched, far ind wide be- 
low, with all its numberless lights ; below — but somewhat distant — 
an intervening space was covered, here, by the broad quadrangle 
(in the midst of which stood, massive and lonely, the grand old 
church ); and, there, by the gardens and scattered cottages or man- 
sions that clothed the sides of the hill. 

" Is not that house," I said, after a short pause, " yonder, with 
the three gables, the one in which — which poor Dr. Lloyd lived — 
Abbots' House ?" 

I spoke abruptly, as if to intimate my desire to change the sub- 
ject of conversation. 

" Yes. But what a lovely night ! How is it that the moon 
blends into harmony things of which the sun only marks the con- 
trast? That stately old church tower, gray with its thousand 
years — those vulgar tile roofs and chimney-pots, raw in the fresh- 
ness of yesterday ; now, under the moonlight, all melt into one 
indivisible charm !" 

As my hostess thus spoke she had left her seat, taking her work 
with her, and passed from the window into the balcony. It was 
not often that Mrs. Poyntz condescended to admit what is called 
"sentiment" into the range of her sharp, practical, worldly talk, 
but she did so at times; always when she did, giving me the 
notion of an intellect much too comprehensive not to allow that sen- 
timent has a place in this life, but keeping it in its proper place by 
that mixture of affability and indifference with which sonic high- 
born beauty allows the genius but checks the presumption of a 
charming and penniless poet, For a few minutes her eyes roved 
over the scene in evident enjoymenl ; then, as they slowly settled 
upon the three gables of Abbots' House, her face regained that 
something of hardness which belonged to its decided character ; 
her ringers again mechanically resumed their knitting, and she 
said, in her clear, unsoftened, metallic chime of voice, " Can you 
guess why I took so much trouble to oblige Mr. Vigors and locate 
Mrs. Ashleigh yonder V 

"You favored us with a full explanation of your reasons." 

" Some of my reasons ; not the main one. People, who under- 
take the task of governing others, as I do, be their rule a kingdom 
or a hamlet, must adopt a principle of government and adhere to 
it. The principle that suits best with the Hill is respect for the 
Proprieties. We have not much money pmtre rums, we have no 
great rank. Our policy is, then, to set up the Proprieties as an 



A STRANGE STORY. 29 

influence which money must court and rank is afraid of. I had 
learned just before Mr Vigors called on me thai Lady Sarah Bel- 
lasis entertained the idea of hiring Abbots' House. London lias 
set its face against her ; a provincial town would be more chari- 
table. An earl's daughter, with a good income and an awfully had 
name, of the best manners and of the worst morals, would have 
made sad havoc among the Proprieties. How many of our prim- 
mest old maids would have deserted Tea and Mrs. Poyntz for 
Champagne and her ladyship ! The Hill was never in so fmmi- 
nent a danger. Rather than Lady Sarah Bellasis should have had 
that house, 1 would have taken it myself and stocked it with owls." 

" Mrs. Ashleigh turned up just in I he critical moment. Lady 
Sarah was foiled,) he Proprieties safe, and so thai»question is set tied." 

'• And it will be pleasant to have your early friend so near you " 

Mrs. Poyntz lifted her eves full upon me. 

"Do you know Mrs. Ashleig 

'"Not the least." 

" She has many virtues and few ideas. She is commonplace 
wealc, as I am commonplace strong. But commonplace weak can 
be very lovable. Her husband, a man of genius and learning, 
gave her his whole heart — a heart worth having; but he was not 
ambitious, and he despised the world." 

" I think you said your daughter was very much attached to 
Miss Ashleigh. Does her character resemble her mother's .'" 

I was afraid while I spoke that I should again meet Mrs.Poyntz's 
searching gaze, but she did not this time look up from her work. 

" No ; Lilian is anything but commonplace." 

"You describe her as having delicate health; you implied a 
hppe that she was not consumptive. 1 trust there is no serious 
reason for apprehending a constitutional tendency which at her 
age would require the most careful watching." 

"I trust not. If she were to die — Dr. Fenwick, what is the 
matter I" 

So terrible had been the picture which this woman's words had 
brought before me, thai 1 started as if my own life had received 
a shock. 

"I beg pardon," 1 said, faltering, pressing ray hand to my 
heart ; " a sudden spasm here — it is over now. You were saying 
that— that— " 

" I was about to say — " and here Mrs. poyntz laid her hand 
lightly on mine. " I was about- to say that if Lilian Ashleigh 
were to die, I should mourn for her less than I might for one 
who valued the things of the earth more. But I believe there 
is no cause for the alarm my words so inconsiderately excited in 
you Her mother is watchful and devoted ; and if the least thing 
ailed Lilian, slip would call in medical advice. Mr. Vigors would, 
I know, recommend Dr. Jones." 



30 A STRANGE STORY. 

Closing our conference with those stinging words, Mrs. P<jynt.z 
here turned back into the drawing ro 

I remained some minutes on the balcony, disconcerted, enraged. 
With what consummate art had this practised diplomatist wound 
herself into my secret! Th- A read my heart better than 

myself was evident from that Parthian shaft, barbed" with Dr. 
Junes, which she bad shot over her shoulder in retreat. That, 
from the first moment in which she had decoyed me to her side, 
she had detected "the something" on my mind, was perhaps but 
of female penetration. But it was with 
dinary craft that her whole conversation afterward had been 
so shaped as to learn the something, and lead me to reveal the 

one to whom the something was linked. For what purpo 
What was. it to her 1 What motive could she have beyond the 
mere gratification of curiosity I Perhaps, at first, she thought I 
had been c ^liter's showy beauty, and hence the 

friendly, half cynical frankness with which she had avpWed 
her ambitious projects for that young lady's matrimonial advance- 
ment. Satisfied by my manner thai ! I no presumptu 
hopes in that quarter, her scrutiny was doubtless continued from 
th : pleasure in the exercise of a wily Inte lect which impels 
schemers and politicians to an activity for which, without that 
pleasure itself, there would seem no ; inducement ; and 
besides, the ruling passion of this petty sovereign was power. And 
if knowledge be power, there is no better instrument of power 
over a con turn tcious subject than ild on his heart which 
is gained in the knowledge o! it! 

• But, "secret!" Had it really come to this? Was it possible 
that the mere sight of a human lace, never beheld before, could 
disturb the whole tenor of my life — a stranger of whose mind and 
character I knew nothing, whose very voice I had never heard 1 
It was only by the intolerabl f anguish that had rent my 

heart in the words, carelessly, abrubtly spoken, "if she wer 
die," that I had felt how the world would be changed to me, if* 
indeed that face were seen in it no more ! Ye a no 

longer to myself— I loved ! And like all qn whom love descends, 
sometimes softly, slowly, with the gradual wing of the cushat 
settling down into its nest, somelime.s with the swoop of the < 
on his unsuspecting quarry, I believed that none ever before loved 
as I loved ; that such, love was an abnormal wonder, made solely 
for me and I for it, Then my mil d insensibly hushed its angrier 
and more turbulent thoughts as my gaze rested upon the roof-tops 
of Lilian's home, and the shimmering silver of the moonlit willow, 
under which I had seen her gazing into the roseate heavens. 



A STRANGE STORY. Si 

CHAPTER VIII. 

When I returned to the drawing room, the party was evidently 
about to break up. Those who had grouped round the piano were 
now assembled round the refreshment table. The card-pteyers 
had risen, and were settling or discussing gains and losses. While 
I was searching for my hat, which 1 had somewhere mislaid, a 
poor old gentleman, tormented by tic-doloreux, crept timidly up to 
me — the proudesl and the poorest of all the hidalgoes settled on 
the Hill. He could not afford a fee for a physician's advice, but 
pain had humbled his pride, and 1 saw ai a glance that he was 
considering how to take a surreptitious advantage of social inter- 
course, and obtain the advice withoul paying the I i old 
man discovered the hal before 1 did,. stooped, look it up, extended 
ii to me with the profound bow of the old school, while the other 
I, clenched and quivering, was pressed into the hollow of his 
cheek, and his eyes met mine with wistful, mute entreaty. The 
instinct of "my profession seized me at once. I could never behold 
suffering without forgetting all else in the desire to re ieve it. 

" You are in pain, said I, softly. S.t down i ribe the 

symptoms, llcw, it is true, 1 am n i professional doctor, bul I am 
a friend who is fond of doctoring, and knows something aboul it." 

So we sat down a little apart from the other guests, and. afl 
few questions and answers, I was pleased to tind that bis "tic" 
(Jid not belong to the less curable kind of that agonizing neuralgia. 
I was especially successful in my treatment of similar sufferi 
for which I had discovered an anodyne that was almost spec 
I wrote on a leaf of my pockel book a prescription which 1 fell 
sure would be efficacious, and as L tore it out and placed' it in his 
hand, 1 chanced tQ look up, and saw the hazel eyes of my hostess 
fixed upon me with a kinder and softer expression than they often 
condescended to admit into their cold and penetrating lustre. At 
thai moment, however, her attention was drawn from me to a 
servant, who entered with a note, and I heard him say, though in 
an undertone " From Mrs. Ashleigh." 

She opened the note, read it hastily, ordered the servant to wait 
without the door, retired to her writing-table, which stood near 
, lace at which I still lingered, rested her face on her hand, 
and seemed musing. Her meditation was very soon over. She 
turned her head, and, to my surprise, beckoned to me. I ap- 
proached. 

" Sit here," she whispered ; " turn your back toward those 
people, who are no doubt watching us. Read this." 

She placed in my hand the note she had just received. It con- 
tained hut. a few words to this em 

"Di;\i; Margaret—] am so distressed. Since I wrote to you, a few 
ago, Lilian is taken Buddenly ill, and I fear seriously. What medical 
man should I send for ? Let my servant have Lis name and address.. 

A. A." 



32 A STRANGE STORY. 

I sprang from my seat. 

" Stay," said Mrs. Poynfcz. " Would you much care if I sent 
the servant to Dr. Jouhs?" 

" All, Madam, you are cruel ! What have I done that you 
should become my enemy ?" 

" Enemy ! No. You have just befriended one of my friends. 
In this world of fools, intellect should ally itself with intellect. 
No ; I am not your enemy ! But you have not yet asked me to 
be your friend." 

Here she put into my hands a note she had written while thus 
speaking. " Receive your credentials. If there be any cause for 
alarm, or if I can, be- of use, send forme." Resuming the work 
she had suspended, but with lingering, uncertain fingers, she added, 
" So far, then, this is settled. Nay, no thanks ; it is but little that 
is settled as yet." 



. TER IX. 



In a very few minutes 1 was once more in the grounds of that 
old gable house. The servant, who went before me. entered them 
by the stairs and the wicket gate of the private entrance; that 
way was the shortest. So again I passed by the circling gladf 
and the monastic well — sward, trees and ruins, all suffused in the 
limpid moonlight, 

And now I was in the house ; the servant took up stairs the note 
with which ! was charged, and a minute or two afterward returned 
and conducted me to the corridor above, in which Mrs. Ash eigh 
received me. I was the first to speak. " Your daughter — is — is 
— not seriously ill, I hope. What is it ?" 

"Hush!" she said, under her breath. "Will you step this 
way for a moment?" She passed through a doorway to the 
right, I followed her, and as she placed on the table the ligh 
had been holding, I looked round with a chill at the heart — it was 
the room in which Dr. Lloyd had died. Impossible to mistake. 
The furniture, indeed, was changed — there was no bed in the 
chamber; but the shape of the room, the position of the high 
casement, which was now wide open, and through which the moon- 
light streamed more softly than on that drear winter night, the great 
square beams intersecting the low ceiling — all were impressed 
vividly on my memory. The chair to which Mrs. Ashleigh beck- 
oned me was placed just on the spot where I had stood by the bed- 
head of the dying man. 

I shrank back — I could not have seated myseli there. So I re- 
mained leaning against the chimney-piece, while Mrs. Ashleigh ;old 
her story. 



A STRANGE STORY. 33 

She said that on their arrival the day before, Lilian had been 
in mure than usually good health and spirits, delighted with the 
old house, the grounds, and especially the nook by the Monk's 
Well, at which .Mrs. Ashleigh had left her that evening in order 
to make some purchases in the town, in company with Mr. Yi 
When Mrs. Ashleigh returned, she and Mr. Vigors had s< 
Lilian in that nook, and Mrs. Ashleigh then detected, with a 
mother's eye. some change in Lilian, which alarmed her. she 
seemed lis! less and dejected, and was very pale ; hut she denied 
that she felt unwell. On regaining the house she had sat down in 
the room in which we then were — " which," said Mrs. Ashleigh, 
"as ir is not required tor a sleeping-room, my daughter, who is 
fond of reading, wished to tit upas her morning-room, or study. 
I left her here and went into the drawing-room below with Mr. 
Vigors. When he quitted me, which he did very soon, I remained 
for nearly an hour giving directions about the placing of furniture, 
which had just arrived from our late residence. 1 then went up 
si airs to join my daughter, and to my terror found her apparently 
lifeless in her chair. She had fainted away." 

I interrupted Mrs. Ashleigh here. " Has Miss Ashleigh been 
si to fainting fits '. " 

" No, never. When she recovered she seemed bewildered — dis- 
inclined to speak. J got her to bed, and as she then fell quietly 
ep, m)- mind was relieved. 1 thought it only a passing effect 
of excitement, in a change of abode ; or caused by something 
malaria in the atmosphere of that part of the grounds in which I 
found her sealed." 

'• Very likely. The hour of sunset at this time of year is trying 
to delicate constitutions. Go on." 

" About three-quarters of an hour ago she woke with a loud 
cry, and has been ever since in a state of great agitation, weeping 
I tly, and answering none of my questions. Yet she does not 
seem light-headed, but rather what we call hysterical." 

" You will permit me now to see her. Take comfort — in all you 
tell me T s<.c nothing to warrant serious alarm." 



CHAPTER X. 



To the true physician there is an inexpressible sanctity in the 
sick-chamber! At its threshold the more human passions quit their 
hold on his heart. Love there would he profanation. Even the 
grief permitted to others he must put aside. He must enter that 
room a Calm Intel/ lie is disabled for his mission if he 

r aught to obscure ihe keen quiet glance of his science. Age 
or youth, beauty or deformity, innocence or guilt, merge their dis- 
3 



34 A STRANGE STORY. 

tinctions iu one common attribute — human suffering appealing to 
human skill. 

Woe to the households in which the trusted Healer feels not on 
his conscience the solemn obligations of his glorious art. Rever- 
ently, as in a temple, I stood in the virgin's chamber. AY hen her 
mother placed her hand in mine, and I felt the throb of its pulse, 
I was aware of no quicker heat of my own heart. I looked with 
a steacly eye on the face, more beautiful from the flush that deep- 
ened the delicate hues of the young cheek, and the lustre that 
brightened the dark blue of the wandering ey*s. She did not at 
first heed me ; did not seem aware of my presence ; but kept mur- 
muring to herself words which 1 could not distinguish. 

At length, when I spoke to her, in that low, soothing tone 
which we learn at the sick-bed, the expression of her face altered 
suddenly; she passed the hand 1 did not hold over her forehead, 
turned round, looked at me full and long, with unmistakable sur- 
prise, yet not as if the surprise displeased her ; less the surprise 
which recoils from the sight of a stranger than thai which seems 
doubtfully to recognize an unexpected friend! Vet on the Sur- 
prise there seemed to creep something of apprehension — of fear; 
her hand trembled, her voice quivered, as she said, 

" Can it be, can it be I Am I awake ? .Mother, who is this ? " 

"Only a kind visitor, Dr. Fenwick, sent by Mrs. Poyntz, for I 
was uneasy about you darling. How are you now 1 " 

"Keiter. Strangely better." 

She removed her hand gently from mine, and with an involun- 
tary modest shrinking, turned towards Mrs. Asbleigh, dra 
her mother towards herself, so that she became at once hi 
from me. 

Satisfied that there was here no delirium, nor even more than 
the slight and temporary li'xvr which often accompanies a sudden 
nervous attack in constitutions peculiar. live, I retired 

noiselessly from the room, and went not into that which had been 
occupied by the deceased inmate, but down stairs into the draw- 
ing-room, to write my prescription. I had already sent the ser- 
vant off with it to the chemist's before Mrs Asbleigh joined me. 

" She seems recovering surprisingly ; her forehead is cooler ; 
she is perfectly self-possessed, only she cannot accdUnt for her 
own seizure, cannot account either for the fainting or the agitation 
with which she awoke from sleep." 

"I think 1 can account for both. The first room in which she 
entered — that in which she fainted — had its window open; the 
sides of the window are overgrown with rank, creeping plants in 
full blossom. Miss Asbleigh had already predisposed herself to 
injurious effects from the effluvia, by fatigue, excitement, impru- 
dence in sitting out at the fall of a heavy due. The sleep 
the fainting fit was the more disturbed, because nature, always 
alert and active in subjects so young, was making its own effort to 



A STRANGE STORY. 36 

right itself from an injury. Nature has nearly succeeded. What 
I have prescribed will a little aid and accelerate thai which nature 
has yel to do, and in a day our two I do not doubt that your daugh- 
ter will be perfectly restored. Only let ma recommend care to 
avoid exposure to the open air during the close of the day. Let 
her avoid also the room in which she was first seized, for it is a 
strang« phenomenon iu nervous temperaments that a nervous 
attack may, without visible cause, be repeated in the same place 
where it was first experienced. You had better shut, up the cham- 
ber lor at least some week's, burn tires in it, repaint and paper it, 
sprinkle chloroform. You are not, perhaps, aware that. Dr. Lloyd 
died iu that room after a prolonged illness. {Suffer me to wait till 
your servant returns with the medicine, and let me employ the 
interval in asking a few questions. Miss Ashleigh, you say, never 
had a fainting fit before. 1 should presume that she is nol what 
we call strong. Bui has she ever had anv illness that alarmed 
you ? " 
" Never." 

" No great liability to cold and cough, to attacks of the chest or 
lungs (" 

"( 'erta'mly not. Sti'll I have feared that she may have a ten- 
dency to consumption. Do you think so? Y'our questions alarm 
me!*" 

" I do not think so? but before 1 pronounce a positive opinion, 
one question more. You say you feared a tendency to consump- 
tion. Is that disease iu her family .' She certainly did not inherit 
it from you. But on her father's side .'" 

'• lier father," said Mrs. Ashleigh, with tears in her voice, "died 
young, but of brain fever, which the medical men said was brought 
on by over-study." 

" Enough, my dear Madam. What you say confirms my belief 
that your daughter's constitution is the very opposite to that in 
which the seeds of consumption lurk. It is rather that, far nobler 
constitution which the keenness of the nervous susceptibility ren- 
ders delicate but elastic — as quick to recover as it is to sutler." 

"Thank yoifiHhank you, Dr. Fenwiek, for what you say. Y"ou 
take a load from my heart. For Mr. Vigors, I know, thinks Lilian 
consumptive, and Mrs. l'oyntz has rather frightened me at times 
by hints to the same effect. But when you speak of nervous sus- 
ceptibility, I do not quite understand you. My daughter is not 
what is commonly called nervous. Her temper is singularly even." 
" But if not excitable, should you also say that she is not im- 
pressionable? The things which do no! disturb her temper may, 
perhaps, deject her spirits. Do I make myself understood .'" 

"Yes, 1 think 1 understand your distinction. But I am not 
quite sure if it applies. To most things that affect the spirits she 
is not more sensitive than other girls, perhaps less so. But she is 
certainly very impressionable in some things." 



36 A STRANGE 8TQR.Y. 

" In what 1 " 

" She is more moved than any one T ever knew by objects in 
external nature, rural scenery, rural sounds, by music, by the books 
that she reads — even books that are not works of imagination. 
Perhaps in all this she takes after her poor father, but in a more 
marked degree — at least, I observe it more in her. For he was 
peculiarly silent and reserved. And perhaps also her peculiarities 
have been fostered by the seclusion in which she has been brought 
up. It was with a view to make her a little more like girls of her 
own age that our friend, Mrs. Poyntz, induced me to come here. 
Lilian was reconciled to this Change; but she shrank from the 
thoughts of London which I should have preferred. Her poor fa- 
ther could not endure London." 

" Miss Ashleigh is fond of readin 

"Yes, she is fond of reading, but more fond of music. She will 
sit by herself for hours v ok or work, and seem as abstract- 

ed as if in a dream. She was so even in her earliest childhood. 
Then she would tell me what she Lad been conjuring up to herself. 
She would say that she had Seen— positively seen — beautiful lands 
far away from earth ; flowers and trees not like ours. As 
older this visionary talk displeased me, and i scolded her, and said 
that if others heard her they would think thai she was not i 
silly, but very untruthful. So of late years she never v< 
tell me what, in such dreamy moments, she suffers herself to ima- 
' ; but the habit of musing continues still Do you nol i 
Mrs. Poyntz, that the host cure would be a little cheerfu 
ciety among other young | 

Dertamly," said I, honestly, though with a jealous pi 
here eo] take it up to her 

then sit wi.h her half an hour or so? By that time I expect she 
will be asleep. I will wail here till you return. Oh, I can an 
myself with the newspapers and books on your table. Stay! 
ton ; be sure there are no flowers in Miss Ashleigh 's sleeping- 
I think I saw a treacherous rose-tree in a stand by the 
dow. If, so, banish it," * 

Left alone, I examined the room in which, thought of joy ! I 
had surely now won the claim to become a privili t. 1 

touched the books Lilian must have touched; in the articles of 
furniture, as yet so hastily disposed that the settled look of home 
was not about them, I still knew that I was gazing on things which 
her mind must associate with the history of her young life. Tnat 
harp must be surely hers, and the scarf, with a girl's favorite 
colors-— pure white and pale blue — and the bird-cage, and the child- 
ish ivory work-case, with implements too pretty for use, all i 
of her. 

It was a blissful, intoxicating reverie, which Mrs. Ashleigh 's en- 
trance disturbed. 



A .VI RANGE STORY. 37 

Lilian was sleeping calmly. 1 had no pretence to linger there 
any longer. 

"1 leave you. I trust, with your mind quite at id 1. 

" Vim will allow in.- tn call to-morrow, in the. afternoon '." 

" < )h yes, gratefully;" 

Mrs. Ashleigh held out her hand as I made toward the door. 

Is there a physician who has not felt at times how emo- 

nious fee throws him hack from the garden land of humanity into 
the market-place of money — seems to put. him out of the paji 
equal friendship, and say, " True, you have given health and life. 
'Adieu! there, you are 'paid for it." Willi a poor person there 
would have been no dilemma, hut Mrs. Ashleigh was Affluent ; to 
depart from custom here was almost impertinence. Bat had the 
penally of my refusal been tl l ol never again beholding 

Lilian, I could not have taken her mother's gold. > s " ! did \\<<\ 
pear to notice the hand held cut to me, and passed by with aqu 
ened step. 

" But, Dr. Fenwick, stop!" 

" No, ma'am, no! Miss Ashleigh would have recovered as soon 
Without me. Whenever my aid is really wanted, then — hut Heaven 
grant that time may never come! We will talk aboul her to- 
morrow." 

I was gi . irden ground, odorous with blossoms ; 

now in the lane, inclosed by the narrow walls; now in the des 
streets, over which the moon shone full as in that winter night when 
1 hurried from the chamber of death. Hut the streets were not 
ghastly now, and the moon was no longer Hecate, that dreary 
less of awe and spectres, hut the sweet, simple Lady of the 
Stars, on whose gentle face lovers have gazed ever since (if that 
uoraers be true) she was parted from earth* to rule 
the tides ofits deeps from afar, even as lore from love divided rules 
the heart that yearns toward it with mysterious law! 



CHAPTER XI. 



With what increased benignity I listened to the patients who 
visited me the next morning ! The whole human race seemed to 
me worthier of love, and 1 longed to diffuse among all some rays 
of the glorious hope thai had dawned upon my heart. My first 
call, when I went forlh. was on the poor young woman from whom 
I had been returning the day before, when an impulse, which 
seemed like a fate, had lured me into the grounds where I had first 
seen' Lilian. I fell grateful to this poor patient; without her, 
Lilian herself might yet be unknown to me. 

The girl's brother, a young man employed in the police, and 



38 A STRANGE STORY. 

whose pay supported a widowed mother and the suffering sister. 
received me at the threshold of the cottage. 

" Oh, Sir ! she is so much better to-day ; almost free from pain. 
Will she live now 1 can she live ? " 

" If my treatment has really done the good you say ; if she be 
really better under it, I think her recovery may be pronounced. 
But I must first see her." 

The girl was indeed wonderfully better. I felt that my skill was 
achieving a signal triumph, but that day even my intellectual pride 
was forgotten in the luxurious unfolding of that sense of heart 
which bad so newly waked into blossom. 

As I recrossed the threshold I smiled on the brother who was 
still lingering there. 

"Your sister is saved, Waby. She needs now chiefly wine and 
good though light nourishment ; these you will find at my bouse ; 
call there for them every day." 

" (iod bless you. Sir! If ever I can serve you — '* His tongue 
faltered — he could say no more. 

Serve me — Allen Fenwick — that poor policeman ! Me, whom a 
king could not serve ! What did 1 ask from earth but fame aird 
Lilian's heart.' Thrones and bread man win from the aid of 
others. lame- and woman's heart lie can only gain through 
himself. 

So I strode gaily up the hill, through the iron gates into the 
fairy ground, and stood before Lilian's home. 

The man-servant, on opening the door, seemed somewhat con- 
fused, and said, hastily, before I spoke, 
" Not at home, Sir ; a note for you." 

I turned the note mechanically in my hand ; I felt stunned. 
" Not? at home ! Miss Ashleigh cannot he out. How is sh< 
" Better, Sir, thank you." 

I still could not open the note ; my eyes turned wistfully to- 
wards the windows of the house, and there — at the drawing-room 
window — I encountered the scowl of Air. Vigors. I colored with 
resentment, divined that I was dismissed, and walked away with a 
proud crest and a firm stem 

When 1 was out of the gates, in the blind lane, I opened the 
note. It began formally, " Mrs. Ashleigh presents her compli- 
ments,'' and went on to thank me, civil v enough, for my attendance 
the night before, would not give me the trouble to repeat my visit, 
and inclosed a fee double the amount of the fee prescribed by 
custom. I flung the money, as an asp that had stung me, over the 
high wall, and tore the note into shreds. Having thus idly vented 
my rage, a dull gnawing sorrow came heavily down upon all other 
enntions, stifling and replacing them. At the mouth of the lane 
I halted. I shrank from the thought of the crowded streets be- 
yond. I shrank yet more from the routine of duties which 
stretche d before me in the desert into which daily life was so sud- 



A STRANUE STORY. 39 

denly smitten. T sat down by the roadside, shading ray dejected 
face with a nerveless hand. I looked up fee the sound of steps 
reached my ear, and saw Dr. Jones coming briskly along the lane, 

evidently from Abbots' House. He must have been there at the 
very time I had called. 1 was not only dismissed but supplanted. 
I ruse before he reached the spot on which 1 had seated myself, and 
went my way into the town, went through my allotted round of 
professional visits, hut my attentions were nol SO tenderly devoted, 
my skill so genially quickened by the glow of benevolence, as my 
poorer patients had found them in the morning. 

I have jaid how a physician should enter the sick room. " A 
Calm Intelligence !" But if you strike a blow on "t, the 

intellect suffers. Little worth, I suspect, was my "calm intelli- 
gence" that day. Biohat, in his famous book upon Life and 
Death, divides life into two classes — animal and organic. Man's 
intellect, with the brain for its centre,. belongs to life animal ; his 
passions to life organic, centered in the heart, in the viscera. Alas! 
if the noblest passions, through which alone we lift ourselves into 
the moral realm of the sublime and beautiful, really have their 
centre in the life which the very vegetable, lhat lives organically. 
shares with us ! And. alas ! if it be that life which we share with 
the vegetable, that can cloud, obstruct, suspend, annul that life 
centered in the brain, which we share with every being howsoever 
angelic, in every star howsoever remote, on whom the Creator be- 
stows the faculty of thought ! 



CHAPTER XII. 



But suddenly I remembered Mrs. Poyntz. I ought to call on 
her. So 1 closed my round of visits at her door. But the day 
was then far advanced, and the servant politely informed me that 
Mrs. Poyntz was at- dinner. I could only leave my card, with a 
message that 1 would pay my respects to her the next day. That 
evening 1 received from her this note : 

" DEAR Dr. FENWick — I regret much that I cannot have the pleasure of 
Be sing y hi bo-rnorrow. Poyntz and I arc going to visit his brother, at the 
other end of the county, and \vc start early. W e shall be away BOine days. 
Sorry t<> hear from Mrs. Ashloigb that she has been persuaded by Mr. Vigors 
to consult JDr. Jones about Lilian. Vigors and Jones both frighten the poojj 
mother, arid insist upon consumptive tendencies. Unluckily, you seem to 
have said there was little the matter. Some (lot-tors gain their practice, as 
gome preachers fill their churches, by adroit use of the appeals to terror. You 
do not want patients; Dr. Jones does. And, alter all, better perhaps as it is 

v.uns, etc. M. Poyntz." 

To my more selfish grief aaxiety for Lilian was uow added. I 
had seen many more patients die from being mistreated for con- 



40 A STRANGE STORY. 

sumption than from consumption itself. And Dr. Jones was a 
mercenary, cunning, needy man, with much crafty knowledge of 
human foibles, but very little skill in the treatment of human 
maladies. My fears were soon confirmed. A few days after I 
heard from Miss Brabazon that Miss Ashleigh was seriously ill — 
kept her room. Mrs. Ashleigh made this excuse for not- immedi- 
ately returning the visits which the Hill had showered upon her. 
Miss Brabazon had seen Dr. Jones, who had shaken his head ; said 
it was a serious case, but that time and care (his time and his care!) 
might effect wonders. 

How stealthily at the dead of the night I would climb the Hill, 
and look toward the windows of the old sombre house — one win- 
dow, in which a light burned dim and mournful, the light of a sick- 
room — of hers? 

At length Mrs Poyntz came back, and I entered her house, 
having- fully resolved beforehand on the line of policy to he adopted 
toward the' potentate whom 1 hoped to secure as an ally. It was 
clear that neither disguise nor half-confidence would baffle the pen- 
etration of so keen an intellect, nor propitiate the good will of so 
imperious and resolute a temper. Perfect frankness here was the 
wisest prudence ; and, after all, it was most agreeable to my own 
nature, and most worthy of my own honor. 

Luckily, I found Mrs. Poyntz alone, and, taking in both mine 
hand she somewhat coldly extended tome, 1 said, with the earnest- 
ness of suppressed emotion : 

"You observed, when I lasl saw you. that I had not yet asked 
you to be.my friend. I ask it now. Listen to me with all the in- 
dulgence you can vouchsafe, and let me at least profit by your 
counsel if you refuse to give me your aid." 

Rapidly, briefly, I went on to say' how I had first seen Lilian, 
and how sudden, how strange to myself had been the impression 
which that first sight of her had produced. 

"You remarked the change that had come over me," said I; 
" you divined the cause before I divined it myself; divined it as 1 
sat there beside you, thinking that through you I might see, in the 
freedom of social intercourse, the face thai was then daunting me. 
You know what has since passed. Miss Ashleigh is ill; her case 
is, I am convinced, wholly misunderstood. All other feelings are 
merged in one sense of anxiety — of alarm. But it has become due 
to all, due to me, to incur the risk of your ridicule even more than 
of your reproof, by stating to you thus candidly, plainly, bluntly, 
the sentiment which renders alarm so poignant, and which, if 
scarcely admissable to the romance of some wild dreamy boy, may 
seem an unpardonable folly in a man of my years and my sober 
calling ; due to me, to you, to Mrs. Ashleigh ; because still the dear- 
est, thing in life to me is honor. And if you, who know Mrs. Ash- 
leigh so intimately, who must be more or less aware of her plans or 
wishes for her daughter's future ; if you believe that those plans 



A STRANGE STORY. 41 

or wishes lead to h lot far more ambitious than an alliance with 
me could offer to Miss Ashleigh, then aid Mr. Vigors in excluding 
me from the ho I nae in suppressing imptuous, vis- 

ionary passion. I cannot enter that house without Idve and 
at my heart. And the threshold of that house I must not cross, 
if such love and such hope would be a sin and a treachery in 
eyes of its owner. I might restore Miss Ashleigh to health; her 
gratitude mighl — 1 cannot continue. This danger must nol be to 
me nor to her, if her mother has views far ab i a son-in- 

law. And 1 am the more hound to consider all this while 

use 1 heard you state that. Miss Ashieigfb had a for- 

— was what would he here termed an heiress. And the full 

conscious!. ess that whatever fame one in my profession may live 

to acquire dc.es noi open those vistas of social power and grandeur 

• opened by professions to my ey< 
selves — thai lull consciousness, i say. was forced upon me by cer- 
words of your own. For the rest, you Know i it. is 

sufficiently recognized as that amidst well-horn gentry to 
rendered me no mesalliance to families the most proud of their 
ancestry, if I had kept my hereditary estate and avoided the ca- 
reer that makes me useful to man. lint I acknowledge th i 
entering- a profession such as mine — entering any profession «•: 
thai of arms or the Senate — all leave their pedigree at its door, an 
erased or dead letter. All must come as equals, high-bom or low- 
horn, into that arena in which men ask aid from a man as he makes 
i If; to them his dead forefathers are idle dust. Therefore, to 
the advantage of birth i cease to have a claim. I am but a pro- 
vincial physician, whose station would be the same had he In 
cobbler's son. But gold- retains its grand privilege in all ranks. 
He who has gold is removed from the suspicion thai attaches to the 
grecd>' fortune-hunter. My private fortune, swelled by my saw 
is sufficient to secure to any one 1 married a larger settlement than 
many a wealthy squire can make. I need le with a wife; 

if she have one, it would he settled on herself. Pardon these vul- 
gar details. Now, have I made myself r ; I" 

" Fully," answered the Queen of the Hill, who had listened to 
me quietly, watchfully, and without one interruption. 

" Fully. And you have done well to confide in me with so gen- 
erous an unreserve. Bui before 1 say further, let me ask, what 
would he your advice for Lilian, supposing that you ought i: 
attend her I You have no trust in Dr. Jones ; neither have I. 
And Ann. jb's note received to-day, begging me to call, 

justifies your alarm. Still you think there is no tendency to con- 
sumption 

" M that I am Certain, so' 1 I glimpse of a 

to me, however, seems a simple ncommon one, wiH per- 

mit, i ut in the a ternative you put — that my own skill, whatever 
its worth, is forbidden — my earnest, advice is that Mrs. Ashleigh 



42 A STRANGE STORY. 

should take her daughter at once to London, and consult there 
those great authorities to whom I cannot compare my own opinion 
or experience ; and by their counsel abide." 

Mrs. Poyntz shaded her eyes with her hand for a few moments, 
and seemed in deliberation with herself. Then she said, with her 
peculiar smile, half grave, half ironical : 

" In matters more ordinary you would have won me to your side 
long ago. That Mr. Vigors should have presumed to cancel my 
recommendation to a settler on the Hill, w T as an act of rebellion, 
and involved the honor of my prerogative. But I suppressed my 
1 indignation at an affront so unusual, partly out of pique against 
yourself, but much more, I think, out of regard for you." 

" I understand. You detected the secret of my heart; you knew 
that Mrs. Ashleigh would not wish to see her daughter the wife of 
a provincial physician." 

"Am I sure, or are you sure, that the daughter herself would 
accept that fate ; or if she accepted it, would not repent I " 

" Do not think me the vainest of men when I say this — that I 
cannot believe I should be so enthralled by a feeling at war with 
my reason, unfavored by any thing 1 can detect in my habits of 
mind, or even by the dreams of a youth which exalted science and 
excluded love, unless 1 was intimately convinced that Miss Ash* 
leigh's heart was free — that 1 could win, and that I could keep it ! 
Ask me why I am convinced of this, and I can tell you no more 
why I think that she could love me, than I can tell you why 1 
love her ! " 

" I am of the world, worldly. But I am woman, womanly — 
though I may not care to be thought it. And therefore, though 
what you say is — regarded in a world!)' point of view, sheer non- 
sense — regarded in a womanly point of view it is logically sound. 
But still you cannot know Lilian as I do. Your nature and hers 
are in strong contrast. I do not think she is a safe wife for you. 
The purest, the most innocent creature imaginable, certainly that, 
but always in the seventh heaven. And you in the seventh heaves 
just at this moment, but with an irresistible gravitation to the solid 
earth, which will have its way again when the honeymoon is over. 
I do not believe you two would harmonize by intercourse. 1 do 
not believe Lilian would sympathize with you, and I am sure you 
could not sympathize with her throughout the long dull course of 
this work-day life. And therefore, for your sake as well as hers, I 
was not displeased to find that Dr. Jones had replaced you ; and 
now, in return for your frankness, I say, frankly — do not go again 
tothat house. Conquer this sentiment, fancy, passion, whatever it 
be. And I will advise Mrs. Ashleigh to take Lilian to town. 
Shall it be so settled \" 

I could not speak. I buried my face in my hands — misery, 
misery, desolation b I know not how long I remained thus silent, 
perhaps many minutes. At length I felt a cold, firm, but not. un- 



A STRANGE STORY. -H 

gentle hand placed upon mine ; and a clear, full, hut not discour- 
aging voice said to me : 
•' Leave me to think well over this conversation, and to ponder 

well the value of all you have shown that you so deeply Peel. The 
interests of life do not till both scales of the balance. The heart 
which does not always go in the same scale with the interests, still 
has its weight in the scale opposed to them. I have heard a few 
wise men say, as many a silly woman says. ' Better in: unhappy 
will) one we love, than he happy with one we love not." 1 >c 
say that, too?" 

"With ever\' thought of my brain, every he.it of my pull 
say it." 

"After that answer, all my questionings cease. You shall hear 

from me fco-morrow. By thai time I shall have seen Anne and 

Lilian. 1 shall have weighed both scales of the balanoe, and the 

heart here. Allen I'Yuwiek. seems very heavy. Go, now. 1 hear 

tie stairs. Poyntz bringing up some friendly, gossiper ; 

ere are spies." 

I passed my hand over my eyes, tearless, but how tears would 
have relieved the anguish that burdened them! and. without a 
word, went down the stairs, meeting at the landing-place Colonel 
Poyntz and the old roan whose pain my prescription had cured. 
The old man was whistling a merry tunc, perhaps first learned on 
the play-ground, lie broke from it to thank, almost to embrace 
hie. as [ slid hy.him. I seized Ids jocund blessing as a good omen, 
and carried it with me as 1 passed into the broad sunlight. .Soli- 
tan — solitary. Should i he so evermore 1 



CHAPTER XIII. 



The next day I bad just dismissed the last of my visiting 
patients, and was aboul to enter my Carriage and commence my 
round, when 1 received a. twisted note containing hut these w'ords : 

"Call iii) me to-day, .-;s soon as you can. 

M. P6yntz." 

A few minutes afterward 1 was in Mrs. l'ovntz's drawing-room. 

" Well, Allen Fenwick," said she, " I do not serve friends hy 
halves. No thanks! I hut adhere to a principle I have laid 
down for myself. I spent last evening with the Ashleigh's. Lilian 
is certainly much altered — very weak, 1 fear very ill, and I believe 
very unskilfully treated hy Dr. Jones. 1 felt that: il was my duly 
to insist on a change of physician, hut there was something else to 
consider before deciding who that physician should he. i was 
bound, as your confidant, to consult your own scruples of honor. 



44 A STRANGE STORY. 

Of course I could not say point-blank to Mrs. Ashleigh, Dr. Fen- 
wick admires your daughter, would you object to him as a son-in- 
law } . Of course I could not touch at all on the secret with which 
you intrusted me; but I have not the less arrived at a conclusion, 
in agreement with my previous belief, that not being a woman of 
the world, Anne Ashleigh has none of the ambition which women 
of the world would conceive for a daughter who has a good fortune 
and considerable beauty ; that her predominant anxiety is for her 
child's happiness, and her predominant fear is that her child will 
die. She would never oppose any attachment which Lilian might 
form, and if that attachment were for one who had preserved her 
daughter's life, I believe her own heart would gratefully go with 
her daughter's. So far, then, as honor is concerned, all scruples 
vanish." 

I sprang from my se it with joy. Mrs. Poyntz dryly 

continued: "You value, yourself on your common sense, and to 
that I address a few won unsel which may not lie welcome 

to your romance. I said that 1 did not think you and Lilian would 
suit each other in the long-run ; reflection confirms me in thai 
position. l)o not look at me so incredulously and so sadly. Li 
and take heed. Ask yourself what, as a man whose days arc de- 
voted to a laborious profession, whose ambition is entwined with 
its success, whose mind must be absorbed in its pursuits — ask 
yourself what kind of wife you would have sought to win, had not 
this sudden fancy for a eharaiii rushed over your b 

reason, and obliterated all previous plans and resolutions. Surely 
some one with whom your heart would have been quite at rest ; 
by whom your thoughts would have been undistracted from the 
channels into which your calling shop.: their flow ; in 

rene companion in the quiet holiday of a trustful h 
Is it not so'?" 

" V ret my own thoughts when they have turned toward 

marri . Lilian Ashleigh that should mar 

the picture ymt have drawn ! " 

" What is there in Lilian Ashleigh which in the least accords 
with the picture ? In the first place, the wife of a young physician 
should not be his perpetual patient. The more he loves her, and 
the more worthy she may lie of love, the more her case will haunt 
him wherever lie goes. When he returns home, it is not to a holi- 

: the patient he most cares for, the anxiety that most g] 
him, awaits them there." 

Heavens ! why should Lilian Ashleigh be a perpe- 
tual patient] The sanitary resources of youth are incalculable. 
And—" , 

"Let me stop you; I cannot argue against a physician in love ! 
I will give up that point in dispute, remaining convinced that there 
is a something in Lilian's constitution which will perplex, torment, 
and baffle you. It was so with her father, whom she resembles-in 



A 8TRANUE STORY. 4-5 

face and in (character, lie showed no symptoms of any grave 
malady. Ills outward form was like Lilian's, a model of symmetry, 
except in this, thai, like he'rsj it was too exquisitely delicate; but, 
when seemingly in the midst of perfect health, at any slight jar on 

e*ves he would become alarmingly ill. 1 was sure thi 
would die young, and he did so." 

" Ay, but Mra. Ashleigh said that his death was from brain- 
On by over-study. Rarely, indeed, do women so 
tie the brain. No female patient, in the range of my pra 
eve.- died i f purely mental exertion." 

" Of purely mental exertion, no; but of heart emotion many 
female patients, perhaps] < »h. you own that; I know nothing 
about nerves. But I suppose that, whether they act on tfae brain 
or the heart, the result to life is much the same if the nerves 1 
strung for lit car and tear. And this is wl 

mean ay you and Lilian will not suit . I she is a 

child: h I .1 her affection, there- 

fore, untried. £ou migl • that you had won I 

she might believe that she gave ii to both be deceived. 

If fairies nowadays condescended to exchange their offspring 
mortals, and if the popular tradition d 
changeling as an ugly, peevish cr 

s parents, i be half inclined to suspect that Lilian 

one of the elfin people. She ne\ sr > earth ; and I 

do not think she will ever be contented With a prosaic earthly lot. 
iu why 1 do not think I you. I 

mast leave it to yourself to o ■ how tar you would suit 

I say this iu due season, while you may upon im- 

■ ; while you ma}' yet watch, ami weigh, and 
from tliis moment on that subjeel I say no more. 1 lend a 
.lever thfow it away." 
She came here to a dead pause, and befan putting on her hor- 
net ami scarf whic,h lay on the table beside, her. 1 was a little 
chilled by her words, and yet i the blunt, slm d look 

and manner which aided the effect of their delivery. But the 
me!;. a the sudden glow of my heart when sir.- again 

''Of course you guess, from these preliminary cautious, that you 
are going into danger ? Mrs. Ashleigh wishes to consult you about 
ie to take you to her hoi 
" ( )li, my friend, my dear friend, how can I ever repays 
her hand, the white, firm hand, and lifted it to ray li 

somewhat hastily away, and laying- it gently on my 

Ider, said, in a soft voice, " Poor Allen, how little the world 

.s either of us I Bwt how little," perhaps, do we know our- 

. your carriage is here .' That is right ; we must put 

down Dr. Jones publicly and in all our st; 

lu the carriage .Mrs. Pointz told me the purport of that convcr- 



46 A STRANGE STORY. 

sation with Mrs. Ashleigh to which I owed my reintroduction to 
Abbots'- House. It seems that Mr. Vigors' had called early the 
morning after ray first visit ; had evinced much discomposure on, 
hearing that I had been summoned ; dwelt much on my injurious 
treatment of Dr Lloyd, whom, as distantly related to himself, and he 
(Mr. Vigors,) being distantly connected to the late Gilbert Ashleigh, 
he endeavored to fasten upon his listener as one of her husband's 
family, whose quarrel she was bound in honor to take up. He ' 
spoke of me as an infidel "tainted with French doctrines," and as 
a practitioner rash and presumptuous, proving his own freedom 
presumption and rashness by daily deciding that my opinion 

must be wrong. Previous to Mrs. Ashleigii's migration to L , 

Mr. Vigors had interested her in the pretended phenomena of mes- 
merism. He had consulted a clairvoyant much esteemed by poor 
Dr. Lloyd, as to Lilian's health, and the clairvoyant!;; red 

her to be constitutionally predisposed to consumption. Mr. \ i 
persuaded Mrs. Ashleigh to come at once with him and see this 
clairvoyant herself, armed with a lock of Lilian's hair and a glove 
she had worn, as the media of mesmerieal rapport. 

The clairvoyant, one of those I had publicly denounced as an 
impostei", naturally enough denounced me in return. On b< 
asked solemnly by -Air. Vigors "to look at Dr. Fenwiefa and see if 
his influence would be beneficial to the subject," the sibyl had he- 
come violently agitated, said that, " when she Looked at us together, 
we were enveloped in a black cloud ; thai this portended affliction 
and sinister consequences; that our rapport was antagoni 
Mr. Vigors then told her to dismiss my image ami conjure up that 
of Dr. Jones. Therewith the somnambule became more tranquil, 
and said "Dr. Jones world do well if he would he guided by 
higher lights than his own skill, and consult herself daily as to the 
proper remedies. The besl remedy of all would he mesmerism. 
But since Dr. Lloyd's death she did not know of a mesmerist, suffi- 
ciently gifted, in affinity with the patient.'' In line, she impressed 
and awed Mrs. Ashleigh, who returned in haste, summoned Dr. 
Junes, and dismissed myself. 

"I could not have conceived Mrs. Ashleigh to he so till. 
wanting in common sense," said 1. " She talked rationally em 
when 1 saw her." 

'•She has common sense in general, and plenty of tl 
most common," answered Mrs. Pointz. " Put she is easily 
and easily frightened wherever her affections are concerned, and 
therefore just as easily as site had been persuaded by Mr. Yi_ 
and terrified by the somnambule, I persuaded her against the one, 
aud terrified her against the other. I had positive experience on 
my side, since it was clear that Lilian had been getting rapidly 
worse under Dr. Jones's care. The main objections I had to en- 
counter in inducing her to consult you again were, first, in Mrs. 
Ashleigh's reluctance to disoblige Mr. Vigors, as a friend aud cou- 



A STRANGE STORY. 47 

nectiou of Lilian's father ; and, secondly, a sentiment of shame in 
reinviting your opinion after having treated you with so little re- 
spect. Both these difficulties J took upon myself, i bring you to 
her house, and, on leaving you, I shall go on bo Mr. Vigors, 
tell hhu what is clone is my doing, and not to be undone by him; so 
that matter is settled, indeed, it' you were out of the question, I 
should not sutler Mr. Vigors to reintroduce all these mummeries of 
clairvoyance and mesmerism into the precincts of the Hill. I did 
no! demolish a man 1 really liked in Dr. Lloyd, to set up a Dr. 
Jones, whom 1 despise, in his stead. Clairvoyance on Abbey Hill, 
indeed! 1 saw enough of ii before." 

"True; your strong intellect detected at once the absurdity of 
the whole pretence — the falsity of mesmerism — the impossibility 
of clairvoyance." 

" No, my strong intellect did nothing of the kind. I do not 
know whether mesmerism be false or clairvoyance impossible; and 
I don't wish to know. All 1 do know is, thai 1 saw the Hill in 
great danger; young ladies allowing themselves to be put to sleep 
by gentlemen, ami pretending they had no will of their own against 
such fascination ! Improper and shocking ! And Miss Brab 
beginning to prophesy, and ' ioning her 

maid (whom Dr. Lloyd declared to be highly gifted) as to all 

fcs of her friends. When 1 saw this, 1 said, 'The liiil is 
demoralized; the Hill is '.waking itself ridiculous ; the Hill must 
be saved ! ' I remonstrated with Dr. Lloyd as a friend; he re- 
mained pbdurate. 1 annihilated him as an enemy, not to me, but 
to the State. 1 slew m. rer for the good of Lome. Now 

you know why I took your part ; nol because 1 h<. inion 

one way or the other as to the truth or falsehood of what Dr. 
Lloyd asserted; but: 1 have a strong opinion that whether the; 

r false, his notions were those which are not to he allowed 014 
the Hill. Arid so, Allen Lenwick, the matter was settled." 

.Perhaps at another time 1 might: have felt some little humiliation 
to learn that 1 had been honored with the influence of this great 
potentate, not as a champion of truth, but as an instrument of 
policy; and I might have owned to some twinge of conscience in 
having assisted to sacrifice a seeker after science — misled, no doubt, 
but [metering his independent belief to his woi Lily interest — and 
sacrifice him to those deities with whom science is ever at war — the 
Prejudices of a Clique sanctified into the Propsieties of the world. 
But at that moment the words 1 heard made no perceptible impres- 
sion on my mind. The gables of Abbots' House were visible 
above tiie evergreens and lilacs; another moment, and the carriage" 
stopped at the door. 



48 A STRAfJtfB STO*Y. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



Lshlbigh received us in the dining-room. Her manner 

to me, at first, was a' lit 1 1 ed and shy. But my companion 

something- of her own happy ease to her gentler 

After a short conv< ■ went to Lilian, 

who was in a little room en the ground floor, fitted up as her study. 

I to perceive that my interdict of the death chamber had 

She reclined on window, which was, however, 

ed; the light of the bright May-day obscured by 

the hearth ; the air of the 

; !. insensible, exploded 

; are confined on sus- 

we entered m ; her 

ad with difficulty I i 

lips on seeing her. She 

iMiin the i red, and on the aspect of 

d a melancholy. But as she 

slowl; ihd of our footsteps, and her eyes met mine, 

into the : she half sank 

her. T 

.,] a low h Was'i possible that I hail been 

in that < arning knell of 

hful life ] 

I sal down by her side. * 1 lured her on to talk of indifferent 

Jul gardens, the bird in the cage, which 

her. Her voice, at first lo\ 
feeble >\ and ber face lighted up with 

.■•ait pla; ' : had not been mis 

I was no iympl ment on which consump- 

its lawful prey — h hectic pulse, no 

ried waste of' the vltai flame. Quietly and I 

observations, addressed my que plied my stethesc 

and when I turned n.; wards her mother's anxious, i 

eyes, that face . for her mother sprang forward, cl 

:!i her struggling tears, 
. "You smile! You see nothing 'to fear?/' 

"Fear — no, indeed! You will soon be again yourself, Miss 
Ashleigh, will you not ? " 

" Yes," '• I shall be well 

very soon. But may I not have the window open .'may I not go 
into the garden ? I so long for fresh air." 

"No, no, darling," exclaimed Mrs. Ashleigh, "not while the 



A STRANGE STORY. 49 

cast winds last. Dr. Jones said on no account. On no account. 
Dr. Fenwick, eh ?" 

"Will you take my arm, Miss Ashleigh, and walk about the 
room?" said I. "We will then see how far we may rebel 

against Dr. Jones." 

She rose with some little effort, hut {here was no cough. At 
first her step was languid — it became lighter and more clastic 
after a few moments. 

"Let her come out." said T to Mrs. Ashleigh. " The wind is 
riot in the east, and, while we are out, pray hid your servant 
lower to the last bar in the grate, that fire — only fit for Christ- 
inas." 

" I Jut— " 

" Ah, no huts. He is a poor doctor who is not a stem despot." 

So the straw hat and mantle were sent for. Lilian was wrapped 
with unnecessary care, and we all went forth into the garden. 
Involuntarily we took the way to the monk's well, and at every 
step Lilian seemed to revive under the bracing air and temperate 
sun. We paused by the well. 

"You do not led fatigued, Miss Ashleigh t" 

"No." 

" But your face seems changed. It is grown sadder. 

" Not sadder." 

" Sadder than when 1 firsl saw it — saw it when you were seated 
here ! " I said this in a whisper. I felt her hand tremble as it 
lay on my arm. 

" You saw me seated here !" 

"Yes. I will teU.you how someday." 

Lilian lifted her eyes to mine, and there was in them that same 
surprise which I had noticed on my first visit — a surprise that 
perplexed me, blended with no displeasure, but yet with a some- 
thing of vague alarm. 

We soon returned to the house. 

Mrs. Ashleigh made me a sign to follow her into the drawing- 
room, leaving Mrs. Poyntz with Lilian. 

" Well ?" said she, tremblingly. 

"Permit me to see Dr. Jones's prescriptions. Thank you. 
Ay, I thought so. My dear Madam, the mistake here has been 
in depressing nature instead of strengthening; in narcotics in- 
stead of Btimulants. The main stimulants which leave no reac- 
tion are air and light. Promise me that I may have my own way 
for a week ; that all I recommend will be implicitly heeded I" 

" I promise. But that cough ; you noticed it?" 

" lea. The nervous system is terribly lowered, and nervous 
exhaustion, is a strange impostor — if imitates all manner of .com- 
plaints with which it has no connection. The cough will soon dis- 
appear ! But pardon my question. Mrs. Poyntz tells me that you 
4 



50 A STRANttE STOKV. 

consulted a clairvoyant about your < aught er. Does Miss Ashleigh 
know that you did so 1 " 

" Mo, I did not tell her." 

" I am glad of that. And pray, for Heaven's salve, guard her 
against all that may set her thinking on such subjects. Above all, 
guard her against concentring attention on any malady that your 
fears erroneously ascribe to her. It is among the phenomena of 
our organization that you cannot closely rivet your conscious- 
ness on any part of the frame, however healthy, but it will 
soon begin to exhibit morbid sensibility. Try to fix all your atten- 
tion on your little finger for half an hour, and before the half 
hour is over the little finger will be uneasy, probably even painful. 
How serious then is the danger to a young girl at the age in which 
imagination is most active, most intense, if you force upon her a 
belief that she is in danger of a mortal disease ; it is a peculiarity of 
youth to brood over the thoughl of early death much more re 
signeuly, much more complacently, than we do in maturer years. 
Impress on a young imaginative girl, as free from pulmonary ten- 
dencies as you and I are, the conviction that she must fade away 
into the grave, and though slie may not actually die of consump- 
tion, you instill slow poison into her system. Hope is the natural 
aliment of youth. You impoverish nourishment where you dis- 
courage hope. as this temporary illness is over, reject for 
your daughter the melancholy care which seems to her own mind 
to mark her out from others of her age. Bear her for the air — 
which is the kindest life-giver; to sleep with open windows; lobe 
out at sunrise. Nature will do more for her than all our drugs can 
do. You have been hitherto fearing nature, now trust to her.'' 

Here JWrs. Poyntz joined us, and having, while 1 had been speak- 
ing, written my prescription and some general injunctions, I closed 
my advice with an appeal to that powerful protectress. 

" This, my dear Madam, is a case in which 1 need your aid, and 
1 ask it. Miss Ashleigh should not lie left with no other com- 
panion than her mother. A change offaces is often as salutary as 
a change of air. If you could devote an hour or two this very 
evening to sit with Miss Ashleigh, to talk to her with your usual 
easy cheerfulness, and — " 

" Anne," interrupted Mrs. Poyntz, " I will come and drimV 
with you at half-past seven, and bring my knitting ; and perhaps, 
if you ask him, Dr. Fenwick will come too ! He can he tolerably 
entertaining when he likes it." 

" It is too great a tax on his kindness, I fear," said Mrs. Ash- 
leigh. " But," she added, cordially, " I should he grateful indeed 
if he would spare us an hour of his time." 

I murmured an assent, which I endeavored to make not too 
joyous. 

" So that matter is settled," said Mrs. Poyntz ; " and now I shall 
go to Mr. Vigors, and prevent his further interference." 



A STRANGE 8T0RY. 51 

"Oh! but, Margaret, pray dont offend him; a connection of my 
poor dear Gilbert's. And so techy! I am sura I do not know 
how you'll manage to — " 

" To get rid of him ? Never fear. As I manage everything 
and everybody," said Mrs. Poyntz, bluntly. Bo she kissed her 
friend on the forehead, gave me a gracious nod, and/declining the 
offer of my carriage, walked with her usual brisk, decided tread 
down the short path toward the town. 

Mrs. Ashleigh timidly approached me. and again the furtive hand 
bashfully insinuating the hateful fee ! 

"Stay," said 1 ; "this is a case which needs the most constant 
watching. I wish to call so often that 1 should seem the most 
greedy of doctors if my visits were to he computed at guineas. 
Let me he at ease to effect my cure ; my pride of science is in- 
volved in it. And when among all the young ladies of the Hill 
you can point to none with a fresher hloom, or a fairer promise of 
healthful life than the patienl you intrust to my care, why, then the 
fee and the dismissal. Nay, nay ; 1 must refer you to our friend, 
Mrs. Poyntz. It was so settled with her before she brought me 
here to displace Dr. Jones." Therewith I escaped. 



CHAPTER XV. 



In less than a week Lilian was convalescent; in less than a 
fortnight she regained her usual health ; nay, Mrs. Ashleigh de- 
clared that she had never known her daughter appear so cheerful 
and look so well. I had estahlished a familiar intimacy at Abbots' 
House ; most of my evenings were spent there. As horse exercise 
formed an important part of my advice, Mrs. Ashleigh had pur- 
chased a pretty and quiet horse for her daughter ; and, except the 
weather was very unfavorable, Lilian now rode daily with Colonel 
Poyatz, who was a notable equestrian, and often accompanied by 
Miss Jane Poyntz, and other young ladies of the Hill. I was 
generally relieved from my duties in time to join her as she re- 
turned homeward. Thus we made innocent appointments openly, 
frankly, in her mother's presence, she telling me beforehand in 
what direction excursions had been planned with Colonel Poyntz, 
and I promising to fall in with the party — if my avocations would 
permit. At my suggestion, Mrs. Ashleigh now opened her house 
almost even' evening to some of the neighboring families. Lilian 
was thus habituated to the intercourse of young persons of bet 
own age. Music and dancing and childlike games made the old 
house gay. And the Hill gratefully acknowledged to Mrs. Poyntz 
" that the Ashleighs were indeed a great acquisition." 



~j2 a stjsange story. 

But my happiness was uot uncheckered. la thus unselfishly 
surrounding- Lilian with others, I felt fche anguish of that jealousy 
which is inseparable from those earlier stages of love — when the 
lover as yet has won no right to that self-confidence which can only 
spring from the assurance that he is loved. 

In these social reunions I remained aloof from Lilian. I saw 
her courted by the gay young admirers whom her beauty and her 
fortune drew around her ; her soft face brightening in the exercise 
of the dance, which the gravity of my profession rather Hum my 
years forbade me to join — and her laugh, so musically subdued, 
ravishing my ear and fretting my heart as if the laugh were a 
mockery on my sombre self and my presumptuous dreams. But 
no, suddenly, shyly, her eyes would steal away from those about 
her, steal to the corner in which I sat, as if they missed me, 
and, meeting my own gaze, their light softened before they 
turned away ; and the color on her cheek would deepen, aud to 
her lip there came a smile different from the smile that it shed 
on others. And then — and then — all jealousy, all sadness van- 
ished, and I felt the glory which blends with the growing i 
ped. 

In that diviner epoch of man's mysterious passions, when ideas 
ion and purity, vague and fugitive before, start forth and 
Concentre themselves round une virgin shape — that rises out from 
creation, welcomed by the Houries and adorned by the 
Graces — how the thought that this archetype of sweetness and 
iself from the millions, singles himself for her 
\s and lifts up his being. Though after experience 
may rebuke the mortal's illusion that- mistook for a daughter of 
heaven a creature of clay like himself, yet for a while the illusion 
has grandeur. Though it comes from the senses which shall later 
ss and profane it, the senses at first sink into shade, awed 
and hushed by the presence that charms them. All that is bright- 
est and best in the man has soared up like long dormant instincts 
of Heaven, to greet and to hallow what to him seems lire's fairest 
dream of the heavenly ! Take the wings from the image of Love, 
and the go ars iVoin the form ! 

Thus, if at niements.jealous doubt made my torture, so the mo- 
ment's relief from it sufficed for my rapture. But I had a cause 
squiet less acute but less varying than jealousy. 

Despite Lilian's recovery from the special illness which had 
more immediately absorbed my care, 1 remained perplexed as to its 
cause and true nature. To her mother I gave it the convenient 
epithet of " nervous." But the epithet did not explain to myself 
all the symptoms I classified by it. There was still, at times, 
when no cause was apparent or conjecturable, a sudden change in 
the expression of her countenance ; in the beat of her pulse ; the 
eye would become fixed, the bloom would vanish, the pulse would 
sink feebler and feebler till it could be scarcely felt ; yet there was 



A STRANGE STOItV. 38 

no indication of heart disease, of which such sudden lowering of 
life is, in itself, sometimes a warning indication. The change would 
pass away after a few minutes, during which she seemed uncon- 
scious, or, at least, never spoke — never appeared to heed what was 
said to her. But in the expression of her countenance there was 
no character of suffering or distress; on i he contrary, a wondrous 
serenity that made her beauty more beauteous, her very youthful- 
uess younger ; and when this spurious or partial kind of syn 
passed, she recovered at once without effort, without acknowledg- 
ing that she had 'fclr faint or unwell, hut rather with a sense of 
recruited vitality, as the weary obtain from a sleep. For the rest, 
her spirits were more generally light and joyous than 1 should have 
premised from her mother's previous description. She would enter 
mirthfully into the mirth of young companions round her; she had 
evidently quick perceptions of the sunny sides of life; an infantine 
gratitude for kindness; an infantine joy in the trifles that amuse 
only those who delight in tastes pure and simple. But when talk 
rose into grave and more contemplative topics, her attention be- 
came earnest and absorbed, and sometimes a rich eloquence, such 
as I have never before or since heard from lips SO young, would 
startle me first into a wondering silence, and soon into a disap- 
proving alarm. For the thoughts she then uttered seemed to me 
too fantastic, too visionary, mo much akin to the vagaries of a wild 
though beautiful imagination. And then I would seek to check, to 
sober, to distract fancies with which my reason had no sympathy, 
and the indulgence of which I regarded as injurious to the normal 
functions of the brain. 

When thus, sometimes with a chilly sentence, sometimes with a 
half-sarcastic laugh, I would repress outpourings frank and musical 
as the songs .of a forest bird, she would look at me with a kind of 
plaintive sorrow — sometimes sigh and shiver as she turned away. 
( )nly in these modes did she show displeasure ; otherwise ever sweet 
and docile, and ever, if, seeing that I had pained her, I asked 
forgiveness, humbling herself rather to ask mine, and brightening 
our reconciliation with her angel smile. As yet I had not dared to 
speak of love ; as yet I gazed on her as the captive gazes on the 
flowers and the stars through the grating of his cell, murmuring to 
himself "When shall the doors unclose?" 



54 A STRANGB STORY. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

It was with wrath suppressed in the presence of the fair am- 
bassadress that Mr. Vigors had received from Mrs. Ppyntz the 
intelligence that I had replaced Dr. Jones at Abbots' House, not 
less abruptly than Dr. Joues had previously supplanted me. As 
Mrs. Poyntz took upon herself the whole responsibility of this 
change, Mr. Vigors did uot venture to condemn it to her face : for 
the Administrator of Laws was at heart no little in awe of the 
Autocrat of Proprieties : as Authority, howsoever established, is 
in awe of Opinion, howsoever capricious. 

To the mild Mrs. Ashleigh, the magistrate's anger was more 
deeidedly manifested. He ceased from his visits, and in answer to 
a long and deprecatory letter with which she endeavored to soften 
his resentment and win him back to the house, be replied by an 
elaborate .combination of homily and satire. He began by ex- 
cusing himself from accepting her invitations on the ground that 
his time was valuable, his habits domestic ; and though ever will- 
ing to sacrifice both time and habits where he could do good, he 
owed it to himself and to mankind to sacrifice neither where his 
advice was rejected and his opinion contemned, ile glanced briefly, 
but not hastily, at the respect with which her late husband had de- 
ferred to his judgment, and the benefits which that deference had 
enabled him to bestow. He contrasted the husband's deference 
with the widow's contumely, and hinted at the evils which 
contumely would not permit him to prevent. He could not pre- 
sume to say what women of the world might think due to deceased 
husbands, but even women of the world generally allowed the 
claims of living children, and did not act with levity where their 
interests were concerned, still less where their lives were at stake. 
As to Dr. Jones, he, Mr. Vigors, had the fullest confidence in his 
skill. Mrs. Ashleigh must judge for herself whether Mrs. Poyntz 
was as good an authority upon medical science as he had no doubt 
she was upon shawls and ribbons. Dr. Joues was a man of cau- 
tion aud modesty ; he did not indulge in the hollow boasts by 
which charlatans decoyed their dupes ; but Dr. Jones had. private- 
ly assured him that though the case was one that admitted of no 
rash experiments, he had no fear of the result if his own prudent 
system were persevered in. What might be the consequences of 
any other system Dr. Jones would not say, because he was too 
high-minded to express his distrust of the rival who had made use 
of under-hand arts to supplant him. But Mr. Vigors was con- 
vinced, from other sources of information (meaning, I presume, the 



A STRANOB SToitY. 

oracular prescience of his clairvoyants,) that the time would come 
when the poor young lady herself would insist on discarding Dr. 
Fenwick, and when ••Thar person" would appear in a very differ- 
ent light to many who now so fondly admired' and so rev 
trusted lum. When that time arrived, lie. Mr. Vigors, might again 
be of use; but, mean while, though he declined to renew his inti- 
macy at Abbots' House, or to pay unavailing visits of mere 
niony, Ids interest in the daughter of his old friend remained undi- 
minished, nay, was rather increased by compassion; that he should 
silently keep his eye upon her j and whenever any thing to her 
advantage suggested itself to him, lie should not he deterred by 
the slight with which Mrs. Ashleigh .had treated his judgment from 
calling on her, and placing before her conscience as a mother his 
ideas for her child's benefit, leaving to herself then, as now, the 
entire responsibility of rejecting tin- advice which he might say, 
without vanity, was deemed of some value by those who could 
distinguish between sterling qualities and specious preten< 

Mrs. Ashleigh's was that thoroughly womanly nature which 
instinctively leans upon others. She was diffident, trustful, meek, 
affectionate. Not quite* justly twid Mrs. Poyntz described her as 
"commonplace and weak," for though she might he called weak, it 
Wag not because ahfl was commonplace; she had a goodness of 
heart, a sweetness of disposition, to which that disparaging defini- 
tion could not apply. She could only be called commonplace, in- 
asmuch as in fcbe ordinary daily affairs of life she had a great deal 
irdinary daily commonplace good sense. Give her a routine to 
follow, and no routine could he better adhered to. In the allotted 
sphere of a woman's duties she never seemed at fault. No house- 
hold, not even Mrs. 1'oyntz's, was more happily managed. The 
old Abbots' House had merged its original antique gloom in the 
■ character of pleasing repose. All her servants adored Mrs. 
Ashleigh; all found ita pleasure to please her; her establishment 
had the harmony of clock-work; comfort diffused itself round her 
like quiet sunshine round a sheltered spot To gaze on her pleas- 
ing countenance, to listen to the simple talk that lapsed from her 
guileless lips in even, slow, and lulling murmur, was in itself a 
respite from "eating cares." She was to the mind what the color 
.ecu is to the eye. She had. therefore, excellent sense in all 
that relates to everyday life. There, she needed not to consult 
another; there, the wisest might have consulted her with profit. 
J'.ut the moment any thing, however in itself trivial, jarred on the 
routine to which her mind had grown wedded; the moment an in- 
cident hurried her out of the beaten track of woman's daily life, 
then her confidence forsook Iter ; then she needed a confidant, an 
adviser, and by that confidant or adviser she could he credulously 
lured or submissively controlled. Therefore, when she lost, in 
Mr. Vigors, the guide she had been accustomed to consult when- 
ever she needed guidance, she turned helplessly and piteously, first 



56 A STRANGE STORY. 

to Mrs. Poyntz, and then yet more imploringly to me, because a 
woman of that character is never quite satisfied without the advice 
of a man. And where an intimacy more familiar than that of his 
formal visits is once established with a physician, confidence in 
him grows fearless and rapid, as the natural result of sympathy 
concentrated on an object of anxiety in common between himself 
and the home which opens its sacred recess to his observant but 
tender eye. Thus Mrs. Ashleigh had shown me Mr. Vigors' letter, 
and forgetting that I might not be as amiable as herself, besought 
me to counsel her how to conciliate and soften her lost husband's 
friend and connection. That character clothed him with dignity 
and awe in her soft, forgiving eyes. So, smothering my own re- 
sentment, less. perhaps at the tone of offensive insinuation against 
myself than at the arrogance with which this prejudiced inter- 
meddler implied to a mother the necessity of his guardian watch 
over a child under her own care, I sketched a reply which seemed 
to me both dignified and placatory, abstaining from all discussion, 
and conveying the assurance that Mrs. Ashleigh would be a( all 
times glad to hear, and disposed to respect, whatever suggestion 
so esteemed a friend of her husband's would kindly submit to her 
for the welfare of her daughter. 

There all communication had slopped for about, a month since 
the date of my reintroduction to Abbots' House. One afternoon 1 
unexpectedly met Mr. Vigors at the entrance of the blind lane, 1 
on my way to Abbots' House;, ami my first glance at his face told 
me that he was coming from it, for the expression of that face was 
more than usually sinister; the sullen scowl was lit into significant 
menace by a sneer of unmistakable triumph. I felt at once that 
he had succeeded in some machination against me, and with 
ominous misgiving quickened my steps. 

I found Mrs. Ashleigh seated alone in front of the house, under 
a large cedar-tree that formed a natural arbor in the center of the 
sunny lawn. She was perceptibly embarrassed as I took my seal 
beside her. 

" I hope," said I, forcing a smile, " that Mr. Vigors has not been 
telling you that I shall kill my patient, or that she looks much 
worse than she did under Dr. Jones' care 1 " 

" No," she said. " He owned cheerfully that Lilian was grown 
quite strong, and said, without any displeasure, that he had heard 
how gay she had been ; riding out and even dancing — which is 
very kind in him — for he disapproves dancing, on principle." 

" But still, I can see he has said something to vex or annoy 
you; and, to judge by' his countenance when I met him in the 
lane, I should conjecture that that something was intended to 
lower the confidence you so kindly repbse in me." 

" I assure you not; he did not mention your name, either to me 
or to Lilian. I never knew him more friendly ; quite like old 



A STRANGE STORY. 57 

times. He is a good man at heart, very ; and was mneh attached 
to my poor husband." 

'• Did Mr. Ashleigh profess a very high opinion of Mr. Vigo 
" Well) I don't quite know that, because my dear Gilbert never 
spoke tome much about him. Gilbert was naturally very silent. 
But he shrank from all trouble — all worldly affairs — and Mr. 
Vigors managed bis estate, and inspected his steward's hooks, and 
protected him through a long lawsuit which he had inherited 
his father. It killed his father. I don't know what we should 
have done without Mr. Vigors, and I am so glad he has forgiven 
me." 
" Hem ! Where is Miss Ashleigh I In-doors .'" 
"No: somewhere in the grounds. Hut my dear Dr. Fenwick. 
>1 leave me yet ; you arc so very, very kind ; and somehow 1 
• grown to look on you quite as an old friend. Something has 
happened which has put me out — quite put me out." 

She said this wearily and feebly, closing her eyes as if she were 
indeed put our in the sense of extinguished. 

" 'the feeling of friendship you express," said I, with earnest- 
ness, •• is reciprocal. On my side it is accompanied with a peculiar 
gratitude. I am a lonely man, by a lonely fireside — no parents, 
no near kindred, ajul in this town, since Dr. Faher left it, no cor- 
dial intimacy till I knew you. In admitting me so familiarly to 
your hearth, you have given me what I have never known I 
since 1 came to man's estate: a glimpse of the happy domestic 
life ; the charm and relief to eye. heart, and spirit, which is never 
known hut in households cheered by the face of woman : thus my 
sentiment for you and yours is indeed that of an old friend ; anil 
in any private confidence you show me, 1 feel as if I were no 
longer a lonely man, without kindred, without home." 

Mrs. Ashleigh seemed much moved by these words, which my 
heart had forced from my lips, an. ylying to me with simple 

unaffected warmth of kindness, she rose, ionic my arm, and con- 
tinued thus as we walked slowly to and tro the lawn : 

" You know, perhaps, that my poor husband left a sister, now a 
widow as myself, Lady Haughton." 

'■ 1 remember that Mrs. Poyntz said you had such a sister, but 1 
never heard you mention Lady Haughton till now. Well !" 

"Well. Mr. Vigors has brought me a letter from her, and it is 
that which has put me out. I dare say you have not heard me 
speak before of Lady Haughton, for I am ashamed to say I had 
almost forgotten her existence. She is many years older than my 
husband was: of a very different character. Only Came once to 
see him after our marriage. Hurt me by ridiculing him as a hook- 
worm. ( MVended him by looking a little down on me, as a nobody 
Without spiril and fashion, which was quite true. And, except In 
a cold and unfeeling letter of formal condolence after i 
dear Gilbert, I never heard from her since I have been a widow 



58 A STRANGE STORY. 



till to-day. But, after all, she is my poor husband's sister, and 
his elder sister, and Lilian's aunt. ; and, as Mr. Vigors says, ' Duty 
is duty.' " 

Had Mrs. Ashleigh said " Duty is torture," she could not have 
uttered the maxim with more mournful and despondent a re- 
signation. 

" And what does this lady require of you, which Mr. Vigors 
deems it your duty to comply with ? " 

" Dear me ! what penetration ! You have guessed the exact 
truth. But I think you will agree with Mr. Vigors. Certainly I 
have no option ; yes, I must do it." 

" My penetration is in fault now. Do what 1 Pray explain '?" 

" Poor Lady Haughton, six months ago, lost her only son, Sir 
James. Mr. Vigors says he was a very tine young man, of whom 
any mother would have been proud ; I had heard he was wild. 
Mr. Vigors says, however, that he was just going to reform, 
and marry a young lady whom his mother chose for him, when, 
unluckily, he would ride a steeple-chase, not being quite sober at 
the time, and broke his neck, Lady Haughton has been, of course, 
in great grief. She has retired to Brighton ; and she wrote to me 
from thence, and Mr. Vigors brought the letter. He will go back 
to her to-day." 

" Will go hack to Lady Haughton \ What! has he been to her? 
Is he, then, as intimate with Lady Haughton as he was with her 
brother?" 

" No ; but there has been a long and constant correspondence. 
She had a settlement on the Kirby estate — a sum which was not 
paid off during Gilbert's life ; and a very small part of the property 
went to Sir James, which part Mr. Ashleigh Sumner, the heir-at- 
law to the rest of the estate, wished .Mr. Vigors, as his guardian, 
to buy during his minority, and as it was mixed up with Lady 
Haughton's settlement, her consent was necessary as well as Sir 
James'. So there was much negotiation, and, since then, Ash- 
leigh Sumner has come into the Haughton properly, on poor Sir 
James' decease; so, that complicated all affairs between Mr. 
Vigors and Lady Haughton, and he has just been to Brighton to 
see her. And poor Lady Haughton, in short, wants me and Lilian 
to come and visit her. I don't like it at all. But you said the 
other day you thought sea air might be good for Lilian during the 
heat of the summer, and she seems well enough now for the change. 
What do you think ?" 

" She is well enough, certainly. But Brighton is not the place 
I would recommend for the summer; it wants shade, and is much 
hotter than L ." 

" Yes, but unluckily Lady Haughton foresaw that objection, and 
she has a jointure-house some miles from Brighton, and near the 
sea. She says the grounds are well wooded, and the place is pro- 
verbially cool and healthy, not far from St. Leonard's Forest. And, 



A STRANGE STORY. 59 

in short, I have written to say we will come. So we must, unless, 
indeed, yon positively forbid it." 

•' When do you think of going?" 

"Next Monday. Mr. Vigors would have me fix Hie day. If 
you knew how I dislike moving when I am once settled ; and I do 
so dread Lady Haughton, she is so fine and. so satirical. But Mr. 
Vigori says she is very much altered, poor thing! 1 should like 
to show you her letter, but I had just sent it to Margaret — Mrs. 
Poyntaz — a minute or two before you came. She knows something 
of Lady Haughton. Margaret knows everybody. And we shall 
have to go in mourning for poor Sir James, I suppose ; and Mar- 
garet will choose il. for I am sure 1 ean't guess to what extent we 
should he supposed to mourn. 1 ought to have gone in mourning 
before — poor Gilbert's nephew — hut I am so stupid, and 1 had 
never seen him. And — hut oh, this w kind ! Margaret herself — 
my deal- Margaret !"• 

We had just turned away from the house, in our up and down 
walk ; and Mrs. Poyntz stood immediately fronting us. 

".So Anne, you have actually accepted this invitation — and for 
Monday next .'" 

" Yes. Did I do wrong ?" 

" What does Dr. Femvick say ? Can Lilian go with safety ?" 

I could not honestly say she might not go with safety ; hut' my 
heart sank like lead as 1 answered : 

" Miss Ashleigh does not, now need merely medical care; hut 
more than half her cure has depended on keeping her spirits free 
from depression. She may miss the cheerful companionship of 
your own daughter, and other young ladies of her own age; a very 
nielaftcholy house, saddened by a recent bereavement, without 
other guests ; t i\ hostess to whom she is a stranger, and whom Mrs. 
Ashleigh herself appears to deem formidable. Certainly these do not 
make that change of scene which a physician would recommend. 
When 1 spoke of sea air being good for .Miss Ashleigh, I thought 
of our own northern coasts, at a later time of the year, when I 
could escape myself for a few weeks and attend iter. The journey, 
too, would be shorter and less fatiguing; the air more invigo- 
rating." 

" No doubt that would be belter," said Mrs. Poyntz, dryly ; 
"but so far as your objections to visiting Lady Haughton have 
been stated, they are groundless. Her house will not be melan- 
choly ; she will have other guests, and Lilian will find other com- 
panions young like herself — young ladies and young gentlemen, 
tool" 

There was something ominous, something compassionate, in the 
look which .Mrs. Poyntz cast upon me, in concluding her speech, 
which in itself was calculated to rouse the fears of a lover. Lilian 
away from me, in the house of a worldly fine lady — such as 1 
judged Lady Haughton to be — surrounded by young gentlemen, 



60 A STKANGE STORY. 

as well as young ladies, by admirers, no doubt, of a higher rank 
and more brilliant fashion than she had yet known ! I closed my 
eyes, and with a strong effort suppressed a groan. 

" My dear Anne, let me satisfy myself that Dr. Fenwick really 
does consent to this journey. He will say to me what he may not 
to you. Pardon me, then, if I take him aside for a few minutes. 
Let me find you here again under this cedar-tree." 

Placing her arm in mine, and without waiting for Mrs. Ashleigh's 
answer, Mrs. Poyutz drew me into the more sequestered Walk that 
belted the lawn ; and, when we were out of Mrs. Ashleigh's sight 
and hearing, said : 

' From what you have now seen of Lilian Ashleigh, do you still 
desire to gain her as your wife ] " 

" Still 1 Oil ! with an intensity proportioned to the fear with 
which I now dread that she is about to pass away from my eyes — 
from my life ! " 

" Does your judgment confirm the choice of your heart 1 Ke- 
flect before you answer." 

" Such selfish judgment as 1 had before I knew her would not 
confirm, but oppose it. The nobler judgment that now expands 
all my reasonings, approves and seconds my heart. No, no; do 
not smile so sarcastically. This is not the voice of a blind and 
egotistical passion. Let me explain myself if I can. I concede, 
to you that Lilian's character is undeveloped. I concede to you 
that, amidst the childlike freshness and innocence of her nature, 
there is at times a strangeness, a mystery, which I have not yet 
traced to its cause. But I am certain that the intellect is organi- 
cally as sound as the heart, and that intellect and heart will ulti- 
mately — if under happy auspices — blend in that felicitous union 
which constitutes the perfection of woman. But it is Itecaus 
does, and may for years, may perhaps always, need a more devoted, 
thoughtful care than natures less tremulously sensitive, that my 
judgment sanctions my choice ; for whatever is best for her is best 
for me. And who would watch over her as I should I " 

"You have never yet spoken to Lilian as lovers speak ? " 

" Oh, no, indeed." 

"And, nevertheless, you believe that your affection would not be 
unreturned 1 " 

" I thought so once — I doubt now — yet, in doubting, hope. But 
why do you alarm me with these questions I You, too, forebode 
that in this visit I may lose her forever ? " 

" If you fear that, tell her so, and perhaps her answer may dispel 
your fear 1 " 

"What, now — already, when she has scarcely known me a month ! 
Might I not risk all if too premature I " 

<l There is no almanac for love. With many women love is born 
the moment they know they are beloved. All wisdom tells us that 
a moment once gone is irrevocable. Were I in your place I should 



A BTRANGB STORY. I 1 

feel that I approached a moment that I must not lose. 1 have 
said enough; now I shall rejoin Mrs. Ashleigh." 

" Stay — tell me firsl what Lady Ilaughton's letter really con- 
tained to prompt the advice with whioh yon so transport, and yet 
so daunt me, when you proffer it." 

"Notnow — later, perhaps — not now. If you wish to see Lilian 
alone, she is by the old Monk's Well ; I saw her seated there . 
came that way to the house." 

"One word more — only one. Answer this question frankly, for 
it is one of honor. Do you still believe now that my suit to her 
daughter would not be disapproved by Mrs. Ashleigb .' " 

" At this moment L am sure it would not : a week hcnc| I might 
not give you the same answer," 

80 she passed on, with her quick hut measured tread, back 
through the shady Walk on to to the open lawn, till the last glimpse 
of her pale gray robe disappeared under the boughs of the cedar- 
Then, with a start, I broke the irresolute, tremulous suspense 
in winch I had vainly endeavored to analyze my own mind, solve 
my own doubts, concentrate my own will, and went the opposite 
way skirting the circle of that haunted ground ; as now. on one 
side, its lofty terrace, the houses of the neighboring city came full 
and close into view, divided from my fairy-land of life but by the 
trodden murmurous thoroughfare winding low beneath the ivied 
parapets; and as now, again, the world of men abrubtly vanished 
behmd the screening foliage of luxuriant June. 

At last the enchanted glade opened out from the verdure, its 
borders fragrant with syringa, and rose, and and there, 

by the gray memorial of the gon< age, my eyes seem 

close their unquiet wanderings, resting spell-bound on that in 
which had become to me the incarnation of earth's bloom ami 
youth. 

Sne stood amidst the Last, backed by the fragments of v 
which man had raised to seclude him from human passion, locking 
under those lids so downcast the secret of the only knowledge 1 
asked from the boundless Future. 

Ah, what mockery there is in that grand word, the world's' 
• war-cry, Freedom 1 Who has not known one period of lite, 
and that so solemn that its shadows may rest over all life hereafter, 
when one human creature has over him a sovereignty more supreme 
and absolute than Orient servitude adores in the symbols of diadfl n 
and sceptre I What crest so haughty that has not bowed before a 
hand which could exalt or humble ! What heart so dauntless that 
has not trembled to call forth the voice at whose sound ope the 
gates of rapture or despair 1 That life alone is free which rules 
and suffices for itself. That life we forfeit when we love ! 



62 A STRANGE STORY. 



CHAPTER XVII. 



How did I utter it? By what words did my heart make itself 
known 1 ? I remember not. All was a dream that falls upon a 
restless, feverish night, and fades away as the eyes unclose on the 
peace of a cloudless heaven, on the bliss of a golden sun. A new 
morrow seemed indeed upon the earth when I awoke from a life- 
long yesterday, her dear hand in mine, her sweet face bowed upon 
my breast. 

And then there was that melodious silence in which there is no 
sound audible, from without; yel within us there is heard a lulling 
celestial music, as if our whole being, grown harmonious with 
the universe, joined from its happy deeps in the hymn that unites 
the stars. 

In that silence our two heart ^seemed to make each other un- 
derstood, to be growing near and nearer, blending by mysterious 
concord into the complete iness of a solemn union, never hence- 
forth to be rent asunder. 

At length I said softly : " And it was here, on ibis spot, that I 
first saw you — here thai 1 for the first time knew what power to 
change our world and to rule our future goes forth from the charm 
of a human face ! " 

And Lilian asked me timidly, and without lifting her eyes, how 
I had so seen her, reminding me that I promised to tell her, and 
had never yet done so. 

And then I told her of the strange impulse thai had led me 
into the grounds, and by what chance my steps had been diverted 
down the path that wound to the glade; how suddenly her form 
had shone upon my eyes, gathering around itself the v<>*f hues of 
the setting sun ; and how wistfully;; m had followed her 

own silent gaze into the distant heaven. 

As I spoke her hand pressed mine eagerly, convulsively, and, 
raising her face from my breast, she looked at me with an intent, 
anxious earnestness. That look! — twice before it had thrilled 
and perplexed me. 

" What is there in that look, oh, my Lilian, which tells me that 
there is something that startles you — something you wish to con- 
fide, and yet shrink from explaining ? See how, already, I study 
the fair book from which the seal has been lifted, but as yel 
must aid me to construe its language.'' 

r If I shrink from explaining, it is only because I fear that I 
cannot explain so as to be understood or believed. But yon have 
a right to know the secrets of a life which you would link to your 
own. Turn your face aside from me; a reproving look, an incred- 



A STKANUE STORY. 63 

ulous smile, chill — oh ! — you cannot guess how they chill me — 
when I would approach that which to me is so serious and so 
solemnly strange.*' 

I turned my face aside, and her voice grew firmer as, after a 
brief" pause, she resumed : 

4i As far back as 1 can remember in my infancy, there have 
been moments when there seems to fall a soft, hazy veil between 
my sight and the things around it, thickening and deepening till 
it has the likeness of one of those white fleecy clouds which gather 
on the verge of the horizon when the air is yet still, but the winds 
are about to rise, and then 1 his vapor or veil will suddenly open, 
as clouds open, and let in the blue sky." 

"Go on,'* 1 said gently, for here she came to a stop. 

She continued, speaking somewhat more hurriedly. 

"Then, in that opening, strange appearances present themselves 
1o me, as in a vision. In my childhood these were chiefly land- 
scapes of wonderful beauty. 1 could but faintly describe them 
then ; 1 could not attempt to describe them now, for they are al- 
most gone from my memory. My dear mother chid me for telling 
her what I saw. so I did not impress ii on my mind by repeating 
it. As I grew up, this kind of vision — if 1 may sit call it — be- 
came much less frequent or much less distinct ; 1 still saw the 
sofl veil fall, the pale cloud form and open, but often what may 
then have appeared was entirely forgotten when I recovered my- 
self, waking «*; from a sleep. Sometimes, however, the recollec- 
tion would he vivid and complete; sometimes 1 saw the fai 
my lost, father ; sometimes 1 heard his very voice, as 1 had seen 
and heard him in my early childhood, when he would let me rest 
for hours beside him as he mused or studied, happy to be so quietly 
near him — for 1 loved him, oh, so dearly! and I remember him so 
distinctly, though I was only in my sixth year when he died. 
"Much more recently, indeed, within the last few months — the 
images of things to come are reflected on the space that I gaze 
into as clearly as in a glass. Thus, for weeks before I came 
hither, or knew that such a place existed, 1 saw distinctly the old 
House, yon trees, this sward, this moss-grown Gothic fount, and, 
with the sight, an impression was conveyed to me that in the scene 
before me my old childlike life would pass into some solemn 
change. So that when I came here, and recognized the picture 
in my vision, 1 took an affection for the spot; an affection not 
without' awe ; a powerful, perplexing interest, as one who feeds 
under the influence of a fate of which a prophetic glimpse has 
been vouchsafed. And in that evening when you fkst saw me, 
seated here — " 

" Yes, Lilian, on that evening — ?" 

" I saw you also, but in my vision — yonder, far in the deeps of 
space — and — and my heart was stirred as it had never been before; 
ami near where your image grew out from the cloud I saw my 



64 A STRANGE STORY. 

father's face, and I beard his voice, not in my ear, but as in my 
heart whispering — " 

" Yes, Lilian, whispering — what 1" 

•• These words — only these — ' Ye will need one another.' But 
then, suddenly, between my upward eyes and the two forms they 
had beheld, there rose from the earth, obscuring the skies, a vague 
dusky vapor, undulous, and coiling like a vast serpent, nothing, 
indeed, of its shape and figure definite, but of its face one abrupt 
glare — a flash from two dread luminous eyes, and a young bead, 
like the Medusa's, changing more rapidly than I could have drawn 
breath into a grinning skull. Then my terror made me bow my 
head, and when I raised it again all that I had seen was vanished. 
But the terror still remained, even when I felt my mother's arm 
round me and heard her voiee. And then, when I entered the 
bouse and sat down again alone, the recollection of what I had 
seen — those eyes — that face — that skull — grew on me stronger 
and stronger till I fainted, and remember no more until my eyes, 
opening, saw you by ray side, and in my wonder there was not 
terror ; no, a sense of joy, protection, hope, yet still shadowed by 
a kind of tear or awe, in recognizing the countenance which had 
gleamed on me from the skies before the dark vapor had risen, and 
while my father's voice had murmured, ' Ye will need one an- 
other.' And now — and now — will you love n:e less that you know 
a secret in my being which 1 have told to no other — cannot con- 
strue to myself? — only — only, at least, do not mock me — do not 
disbelieve me. Nay, turn from me no longer now : now I ask to 
meet your eyes. Now, before our bands can join again, tell me 
thai you do hot despise me a* untruthful, do not pity me as insane."! 

" Hush — hush ! " I said, drawing her to my breast, " Of all 
you tell me, we will talk hereafter. The scales of our science have 
no weights fine enough for the gossamer threads of a maiden's pure 
fancies. Enough for me — for us both — if out from all such illu- 
sions start one truth told to yon, lovely child, from the heavens; 
told to me, ruder man, on the earth — repeated by each pulse of 
this heart that woos you to hear and to trust; now and henceforth, 
through life unto death — 'Each has need of the other' — 1 of you — 
I of you ! my Lilian ! — my Lilian ! " 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

* 
In spite of the previous assurance of Mrs. Poyntz, it was not 
without an uneasy apprehension that 1 approached the cedar-tree, 
under which Mrs. Ashleigh still sat, her friend beside her. I 
looked on the fair creature whose arm was linked in mine. So 
young, so singularly lovely, and with all the gitts of birth aud 



A 8TRANQB STOHY. 65 

fortune which bend avarice and ambition the more submissively 
to youth and beauty, I felt as if I had wronged what a parent 
might justly deem her natural lot. , 

•• i ih, if your mother should disapprove," said, I falterinj 

Lilian leaned on my arm less lightly. "If I had though! so," 
she said, with her soft blush, " should I be thus by your side ?" 

So we passed under the boughs of the dark tree, and Lilian left 
me, and kissed Mrs. Ashleigh's cheek, then seating herself on the 
turf, laid her lead quietly on her mother's lap. I looked on the 
Queen of the Hill, whose keen eye shot over me. I thought 
there was a momentary expression of pain or displeasure, on her 
countenance ; but it passed. Still there seemed to me something 
of irony, as well as of triumph or congratulation, in the half smile 
with which she quitted her seat, and in the tone with which she 
whispered, as she glided by me to the open sward, " So then, it is 
settled." 

She walked lightly and quickly down the lawn. When she was 
out of sight, I breathed more -freely. I took the seat which she 
had quitted, by Mrs. Ash eigh's side, and said, "A little while 
ago, 1 spoke of myself as a man without kindred, without borne, 
and now I come to you and ask for both." 

Mrs. Ashleigh looked at me benignly, then raised her daughter's 
face from her lap, and whispered, " Lilian," and Lilian's lips 
moved, but I did not hear her answer. Her mitt her did. She 
took Lilian's hand, simply placed it in mine, and said. "As she 
chooses, I choose ; whom she loves, I love." 



CHAPTER XIX. 



FBOM'that evening till the day Mrs. Ashleigh and Lilian went 
on the dreaded visit, I was always at their house when my avo- 
cations allowed me to steal to it ; and during those few days, the 
happiest J had ever known, it seemed to me that years could not 
have more deepened my intimacy with Lilian's exquisite Wtttfre, 
made me more reverential of its purity, or more enamored of its 
sweetness. I could detect in her but. one fault, and I rebuked 
myself for believing that it was a fault. We sec many who ne- 
glect the minor duties of life, who lack watchful forethought and 
considerate care for others, and we recognize the cause of this 
failing in levity or egotism. Certainly neither of those tendencies! 
of character could be ascribed to Lilian. Yet still in daily trifles 
there was something of that neglect, some lack of that care and 
forethought. She loved her mother with fondness and devotion, 
yet it never occurred to her to aid in those petty household cares 
5 



66 A STRANGE STORY. 

in which her mother centred so much of habitual interest. She 
was full of tenderness and pity to all want and suffering, yet 
many a young lady on the Hill was more actively beneficent — 
visiting the poor in their sickness, or instructing their childrerr- in 
the Infant Schools. I was persuaded that her love for me was 
deep and truthful ; it was clearly void of all ambition ; doubt- 
less she wou'd have borne unflinching and contented whatever the 
world considers to be sacrifice and privation — yet I should never" 
have expected her to take her share in the troubles of ordinary 
life. I could never have applied to her the homely but significant 
name of helpmate. I reproach myself while I write for noticing 
such defect— if defect it were — in what may be called the practi- 
cal routine of our positive, trivial, human existence. No doubt it- 
was this that had caused Mrs.Poyntz's harsh judgment against 
the Wisdom of my choice. But such chiller shade upon her 
charming nature was reflected from no inert unamiable self-love. 
It was but the consequence of that self-absorption which the habit 
.of reverie had fostered. I cautiously abstained from all allusion 
to those visionary deceptions, which she had confided to me, as 
the truthful impressions of spirit if not of sense. To me any 
approach to what I termed superstition was displeasing ; any in- 
dulgence of phantasies not within the measured and beaten tracks 
of healthful imagination, more than displeased me in her — it; 
alarmed. I wonld'not by a word encourage her in persuasions 
which I felt, it would be at present premature to reason against, 
and erne: indeed to ridicule. 1 was convinced that of themselves 
these mists round her native intelligence, engendered by a solitary 
and musing childhood, would subside in the fuller daylight of 
wedded life. She seemed pained when she saw how resolutely I 
shunned a subject dear to her thoughts. She made. one or two 
timid attempts to renew it, but my grave look' sufficed to check 
her. Once or twice, indeed, on such occasions she would turn 
away and leave me, but she soon came back — that gentle heart 
could not bear one unkind Iter shade between that and what it 
iined. It was agreed that our engagement should be for the 
present confided only to Mrs. Poyntz. When Mrs. Ashleigb and 
Lilian returned, which would be in a few weeks at furthest, it 
should be proclaimed; and our marriage could take place in the 
autumn, when I should be most free for one brief holiday from 
professional toils. 

So we parted — as lovers part. I felt none of those jealous 
fears which, before we were affianced, had made me tremble a; the 
thought of separation, and had conjured up irresistible rivals. — 
But it was with a settled heavy gloom that. I saw her depart. 
From earth was gone a glory ; from life a ble.ss.ing. 



A STRANGE STORY. 67 



CHAPTER XX. 

DURING the busy years of my professional career T had snatched 
leisure for sodre professional treatises, which had made more or 
less sensation, and one of them, entitled " The Vital Prireiple ; 
its Waste and Supply," had gained a wide circulation among the 
general public This las) treatise contained the results of certain 
experiments, then new in chemistry, which were adduced in sup- 
port of a theory 1 entertained as to the reinvigoration of t lie hu- 
man system l>y principles similar to those which Liebig has 
applied to the replenishment of an exhausted soil, namely, the 
giving back to the. frame those essentials to its nutrition which it 
has lost by the action or accident of time ; or supplying that 
cial pabulum r energy in which the individual organism is con- 
stitutionally deficient : and neutralizing or counterbalancing 
in which it super. i bounds' — a theory upon which some eminent phy- 
sicians have more recently improved with signal success. Bui mi 
these essays, slight and suggestive, rather than dogmatic, I set no 
value. 1 had been for the last two years engaged on a work of 
much wider range, endeared to me by a far bolder ambition — a 
work upon which I fondly hoped to found an enduring repulation 
as a severe and original physiologist. It was an " Inquiry into 
Organic Life." similar in comprehensiveness of survey to that by 
which the illustrious duller, of Berlin, has enriched the science 
of cur age ; however inferior, a'as, to that august combination of 
thought and»lean1iiig, in tlie judgment which checks presump- 
tion, and the genius which adorns speculation. But at that diy I 
was cai ricd away by the ardor of composition, and 1 admired my 
performance because I loved my labor. This work had been en- 
tirely laid aside for the last agitated- month. Now that Lilian was 
gone, 1 resumed it earnestly; as the .sole occupation that had 
power and charm enough to rouse me from the aching sense of 
void and loss. 

The very night of the day she went I reopened my MS. I had 
Lift offal the commencement of a chapter "upon Knowledge as 
derived from cur Senses-, As my convictions on this head were 
founded on the well-known arguments of Locke and Oondillao 
against innate ideas, and on the reasonings hy which Hume had 
resolved the combination of sensations into a general idea, to an 
impulse arising merely out of habit, so 1 set myself to oppose, as 
a dangerous concession to the sentimentalities or mysticism of ;; 
|iseudo-philosopby, the doctrine favored hy most of our receht 
physiologists, and of which some of the most eminent of Qeriiian 
metaphysicians have accepted the substance, though retining into 



68 A STRANGE STORY. / 

a subtlety its positive form — I mean the doctrine which Muller 
himself has expressed in these word s : 

'( That innate, ideas may exist, cannot in the slightest degree be * 
denied ; ir is, indeed, a fact All the ideas or animals, which are 
induced by instinct, are innate .and immediate. Something pre- 
sented to the mind, a desire to attain which is at the same time 
given. The new-born lamb and foai have such innate ideas, which 
lead them to follow their mother and suck the teats. Is it not in 
some measure the same with the intellectual ideas of man ?"* 

To this question I answered with an indignant "no." A 
"yes" would have shaken my creed of materialism to the dust. 
I wrote on rapidly, warmly. I defined the properties and meted 
the limits of natural laws, which I would not admit that a Deity 
himself, could alter. I clamped and. soldered dogma to dogma in 
the links or my tinkered logic, till out from my page, to my own 
complacent eye, grew Intellectual Man, as the pure formation of 
his material senses ; mind, or what is called soul, born from and 
manned by them alone ; though to act, and to perish with the 
machinery they moved. Strange, that at the very time my love 
for Lilian might have taught me that there are mysteries in the 
cure of the feelings which my analysis of ideas could not solve, I 
should so stubbornly have .opposed as unreal all that could be 
referred to the spiritual ! Strange, that at the very time when the 
thought that 1 might lose from this life the being 1 had known 
scarce a month had just before so appalled me, I should thus com- 
placently sit down to prove that according 1o t lie laws of the na- 
ture which my passion obeyed, I mms: lose for eternity the blessing 
I now Imped 1 had won to my ate! Bui iiow distinctly dissimilar 
is man in his conduct in ;.i ni: n in his systems! See the poet 
reclined under forest-bo 1 uiis, iSbuning odes to his mistress ; follow 
him out into the world ; no mistress ever lived fur him there ! t 
See the hard man of science/feo austere in his passionless prob- 
lems ; follow him now where'the brain rests from its toil, where 
the heart finds its Sabbath — what'child is so tender, so vielding 
and soft ? 

But I had proved to my own satisfaction that poet and sage are 
dust, and no more, when the pulse-ceases to beat. And at that 
consolatory conclusion my pen stopped. 

Suddenly beside me I distinctly heard a sigh — a compassionate, 
mournful sigh. The sound was unmistakable. I started from 
my seat ; looked round, amazed to discover no one — no living 
thing ! The windows were closed, the night was still. That sigh 
was not the wail of the wind. But there, in the darker angle of 

* Midler's Elements of Physiology. Vol. ii. p. 134. Translated by Dr. 
Baley. -^ 

+ Cowley, who wrote so elaborate a series of amatory poems, is said "never 
to have been in love but once, and then he never had resolution to tell his 
passion." — Johnson's Lives of the Poets: Cowley. 



A STRANGE STORY. 6U 

the room, what was that? A silvery whiteness — vaguely shaped 
as a human form — receding, fading, gone! Why I know nor — 
for no face was visible, no form, if form it were, more distinct than / 
the colorless outline — why I know not, but I cried aloud, "Lilian ! 
Lilian ! " My voice came strangely hack to my own car. T 
smiled and blushed at my folly. " So I. too, have learned what 
is superstition," I muttered to myself. " And here is an anecdote 
at my own expense (as Miiller frankly tells us anecdotes of the 
illusions which would haunt bis eyes, shul or* open), an anecdote 1 
may quote when I come to my Chapter on the Cheats of the Senses 
and Spectral Phantoms." I went on with my book, and wrote 
till the lights waned in the grey of the dawn. And I said then, 
in the triumph of my pride, as I laid myself down to ret. ' ; 1 
have written that which allots with precision man's place in the 
region of nature; written tl at which wil found a school — form 
disciples : and race after race of those who cultivate truth through 
pure reason shall accept my basis if they enlarge my building.' 
And again I heard the sigh, but this time it caused no surprise. 
" Certainly," 1 murmured, "a very strange thing is the nervous 
system ! " So I turned on my pillow, and, wearied out, fell asleep. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

The next day the last of I be visiting patients to whom my 
forenoons were devoted had just quitted me when I was summoned 
in haste to attend the steward of a Sir Philip Derval, ;,ot residing 

at -his family scat, which was about, five miles from L- . It was 

rarely indeed that persons so far from the town, when of no higher 
raid; than this applicant, asked my services. But it was my prin- 
ciple to go wherever i was summoned ; my profession was not 
gain, it was healing, to which gain was an incident, not the essen- 
tial. This case the messenger reported as urgent. I went on 
horseback, and rode fast ; hut swiftly as I cantered through the 
village hat skirted the approach to Sir Philip Derval's park, the 
evident care bestowed on the accommodation of the cottagers 
forcibly struck me. I felt that I was on the lands of a rich, 
intelligent- and beneficent proprietor. Entering the park, and 
passing before the manor-bouse, the contrast between the neglect 
and decay of the absentee's stately ball and the smiling homes of 
his villagers was disconsolately mournful. 

An imposing pile, built apparently by Vanbrugh, the decorated 
pilasters, pompous portico, with grand perron (or double flight of 
stairs to the entrance), enriched with urns and statues, but dis- 
colored, mildewed, chipped, half hid with unpruned creepers and 
ivy. Most, of the windows were closed with shutters, decaying 



70 A STRANGE STORY. 

for want of paint ; in some of the oasements the pains were broken ; 
the peacock perched on the shattered balustrade thai fenced a 
garden overgrown with weeds. The sun glared hotly on the 
place, and made its ruinous condition still mure painfully apparent, 
1 was a ad when a winding in the park road shut the house from 
my sight. Suddenly, 1 emerged through a copse of ancient yew- 
trees, "and before me there gleamed, in abrupt whiteness, a building 
evidently designed for the family mausoleum. Classical in its 
outline, with the blind iron door niched into stonewalls of massive 
tbiciiess. and surrounded by a funereal garden of roses and ever- 
greens, fenced with an iron rail, parti-gilt. 

The suddenness with which this House of the Dead came upon 
me, heightened almost Into pain, if not into awe, the dismal 
impressions which the aspect of the deserted home, with its neigh- 
borhoods had made. 1 spurred my horse and soon arrived at the 
door of my patient, who lived in a fair brick house at the ol 
extremity of the park. 

1 found my patient, a man somewhat advanced in years, but of 
a robust conformation, in bed : he had been seized with a fit. which 
was supposed to be apoplectic, a few hours before ; but was al- 
ready sensible, and out of immediate danger. After 1 had pre- 
scribed a few simple remedies, 1 took aside the patient's wife, and 
went with her to the parlor below stairs, to make some inquiry 
about her husband's ordinary regimen and habits of life. .These 
seemed sufficiently regular; 1 could discover no apparent <■. 
■for the aitack, which presented Symptoms not familiar to my ex- 
perience. '• Has vour husband never had such fits before I " 

" Never." 

" Had he experienced any sudden emotion 1 Had he heard any 
une\| ected news ? or had any thing happened to put him out ?" 

The woman looked much disturbed at these inquiries. 1 pressed 
them more urgently. At last she burst into tears, and, clasping 
my hand, said. "Oh ! doctor, I ought to tell you — I sent for you 
on purpose — yot 1 fear you will not believe me — my good man has 
seen a ghost !" 

" A ghost ! " said I, repressing a smile. " Well, tell me all that 
I may prevent the ghost coming again." 

The woman's story was prolix. Its substance was this : Her 
husband, habitually an early riser, had left his bed that morning 
still earlier than usual, to give directions about some cattle that 
were to- he sent for sale to a neighboring fair. An hour afterwards 
he had been found by a shepherd near the mausoleum apparently 
li elcss. On being removed to his own bouse he had recovered 
speech, and bidding all except his wife leave the room, he then 
told her that on walking across the park toward the cattle-sheds 
he had seen what appeared to him at first a pale light by the iron 
door nf tire mauso'eum. On approaching nearer, this ight 
clanged into the distinct and visible' form of his mailer, Sir 



A STRANGE STORY- 71 

Philip Derval, who was then abtpad — supposed to be in the $ast — 

where he had resided for many years. The impression on the 
steward's mind was so strong that be called out, "Oh! Sir 
Philip I ?' when, looking still more intently, lie perceived that the 
face was that ni' a corpse. As he continued to gaze, the apparition 
seemed gradually to recede, as if vanishing into the sepulchre 
itself, lie knew no more; he became unconscious. It was the 
excess of the poor woman's alarm, on hearing this strange tale, 
that had made her resolve to send for me instead of the parish 
apothecary. She fancied so astounding a cause for her husband's 
seizure could only be properly dealt with by some medical man 
reputed to have more than ordinary learning. t \nd the steward 
himself objected to the apothecary in the immediate neighborhood 
as more likely to annoy him by gossip than a physician from a 
comparative distance. 

1 took care not to lose the confidence of the good wife by para- 
ding top quickly my disbelief in the phantom her hrtsband declared 
thai he had seen; hut as the story itself seemed at once to decide 
the nature of the fit to be epileptic, I began to tell her cS similar 
delusions which, in my experience, had occurred to those subjected 
to epilepsy, and finally" soothed her into the conviction that the 
aparition was clearly reducible to natural causes. Afterward I 
led her on to talk about Sir Philip Derval, less from any curiosity 
1 felt about the absent proprietor than from my desire to re-famil- 
iarize, her own mind to his image as a living man. The steward 
had been in tV service of Sir Philip's father, and had known Sir 
Philip himself from a child, lie was warmly attached to his 
master, whom the old woman described as a man of rare benevo- 
lence and great eccentricity, which last she imputed to his studious 
habits, lie had succeeded to the title and estates as a minor. 
For llx* first few years after attaining his majority he had mixed 
much in the world. When at Derval Court his house had been 
tilled with gay companions, and was the scene of lavish hospitality. 
But the estate was not in proportion to the grandeur of the man- 
sion, still less to the expenditure oi^ the owner. He had become 
greatly embarrassed, and some love disappointment (so it was 
rumored) occurring simultaneously with his pecuniary difficulties, 
he had suddenly -changed his way of life, shut himself up from 
his old friends, lived in seclusion, taking to books and scientific 
pursuits*, and, as the old woman said, vaguely but expressively, 
" to odd ways." He had gradually, by an economy that, towards 
himself, was penurious, but which did not preclude much judicious 
generosity to others, cleared off his debts, and, once more rich, he 
had suddenly quitted the country, and taken to a life of travel. 
He was now about forty-eight years old, and had been eighteen 
years abroad. He wrote frequently to his steward, giving. him 
minute and thoughtful instructions as to the employment, com- 
forts, and homes of the peasantry, but. peremptorily ordering him 



72 A STRAiVGE 8T0RY. 

to spend no money on the grounds and mansion, stating, as. a 
reason why the latter might be allowed to fall to decay", his in- 
tention to put] it down whenever he returned to England. 

I staid some time longer than my engagements well warranted 
at my patient's house, not leaving till the sufferer, after a quiet 
sleep, had removed from his b"ed to his arm-chair, taken food, and 
seened perfectly recovered from his attack. 

Siding homeward' I mused on the difference that education makes, 
even pathologically, between man and man. Here was a brawny 
inhabitant of the rural fields; leading the healthiest of lives, not 
conscious ©f the faculty we call imagination, stricken down almost 
to death's door "by his fright at an optical illusian, explicable, if 
examined, by the same simple causes which had impressed me 
the nighfbefbre with armoment's belief in a sound and a spectre — 
me, who, thanks to sublime education, went so quietly to sleep 
a few minutes after, convinced that no phantom, the ghostliest 
that ear ever heard, or eye ever saw, can be any thing else but a 
nefvous phenomenon. 



CHAPTEK XXII. 



That evening I went to Mrs. Poyntz's; it was one. of her or- 
dinary " reception nights," and 1 felt that she would naturally 
expect my attendance as " a proper attention." 

I joined a group engaged in general conversation, of which Mrs. 
Poyntz herself made the center, knitting, as usual, rapidly while 
she talked, slowly when she listened. 

Without mentioning the visit I had paid that morning, I turned 
the conversation on. the different country places in the neighbor- 
hood, and then incidentally asked, " What sort of a man is Sir 
Philip Derval 1 Is it not strange that he should suffer so fine a 
place to fall into decay'] " The answers I received added little to 
the information I had already obtained. Mrs. Poyntz knew nothing 
of Sir Philip Derval, except as a man of large estates, whose rental 
had been greatly increased by a rise in the value of property lie 

possessed in the town of L -, and which lay contiguous to that 

of her husband. Two or three of the older inhabitants of the Hill 
had remembered him in his early days, when he was gay, high- 
spirited, hospitable, lavish. One observed that the only person in 

L whom he had admitted to his subsequent seclusion was Dr. 

Lloyd, who was then without practice, and whom he had employed 
as an assistant in certain chemical experiments". 

Here a gentleman struck into the conversation. He was a 
stranger to me and to L r-, a visitor to one "of the dwellers on 



A STRANGE STORY. 7S 

the Hill, who had asked leave to present him to its Queen as a 
great traveler and an accomplished antiquarian. 

Said this gentleman : "Sir' Philip Derval I tkiiGWlitra. I. met 
him in tin- East. Hi' was then still. I believe, very fund of chem- 
ical science; a clever, odd, philanthropfoal man; had .studied 
medicine, or at least, practised it ; was said to have made many 
marvelous eures. 1 became acquainted , with him in Aleppo. 11" 
had come to that town, not much frequented by English travelers, 
in order to inquire into the murder of two men, of whom one 'was 
his friend, and the other his countryman/' 

" This is interesting," said Mrs. Poyntz, dryly. " We who live 
on this innocent Hill all love stories pf crime — murder is the 
pleasantesl subject yon could have hit on. Pray give us the 
details." 

"So encouraged," said the traveler, good-humoredly,,*" I will 
not hesitate fo communicate the little I know. In Aleppo there 
had lived for some years a wan who was held by the natives in 
great reverence." He had the*reputation of extraordinary wisdom, 
but was diflioult of access; the lively imagination of the Orientals 
invested his character with the fascinations of fable; in short, 
Ilaroun of Aleppo was popularly considered as a magician. Wild 
stories were told of his powers, of his preter-naturaj age, of his 
hoarded treasures. Apart from such disputable titles to homage, 
there seemed no question, from all I heard, that his learning was 
considerable, Ids charities extensive, his manner of life- irreproach- 
ably ascetic. Tie appears to have resembled those Arabian sages 
of ihe Gothic age to whom modern science is largely indebted — a 
mystic enthusiast but. an earnest scholar. A wealthy but singular 
Englishman, long resilient in another part of the East, afflicted by 
some languishing disease, took a journey to Aleppo to consult this 
sage, who, among his other acquirements, was held to have dis- 
covered rare secrets in medicine — his countrymen said in 'charms.' 
One morning, not long after the Englishman's arrival, Ilaroun was 
found dead in his bed, aparently strangled, and the' Englishman,'' 
who lodged in another part of the town, bad disappeared ; but some 
of his clothes, and a crutch on which he habitually supported him- 
self, were found a few miles distant from Aleppo near the roadside. 
There appeared no doubt that he, too, had been murdered, but his 
corpse could* nol be discovered. Sir Philip Derval had been a 
loving disciple of this Sage of Aleppo, to whom he assured me he 
owed not only that knowledge of medicine which, by report, Sir 
Philip possessed, bul the insight into various truths of nature, on 
the promulgation of 'which it was evident Sir Philip cherished the 
ambition to found a philosophical celebrity for himself." 

"Of what description were those truths of nature?" I asked, 
(Tiincwhat sarcastically. 

::'. 1 am unable to tell yon, for Sir Philip did n< I infi mi me, 
nor did 1 much care to ask, for what may be revered as truths in 



74 . A STRANGE STOIIY. 

Asia are usually despised as dreams in Europe. To return to my 
story. Sir Philip bad been in Aleppo a little time before tbe mur- 
der; he lflfi the Englishman under the care of Haroun ; lie re- 
turned to Aleppo on bearing- the tragic exeats 1 have related, and 
was busied in collecting such evidence as could be gleaned, and 
instituting inquiries after our missing countryman at the time that 
1 myself chanced to arrive in the city. 1 assisted in his researches, 
hut without avail. The assassins remained undiscovered. 1 do 
not myself doubt that they were mere vulgar robbers. Sir Philip 
had a darker suspicion, of which he made no secret to me, but as I 
confess that I thought the suspicion groundless, you will pardon 
if I do not repeat it. Whether, since I left the East, the 
Englishman's remains have been discovered, I know not. Very 
probably; for I understand that his heirs have got hold of what 
fortune lie left, less than was generally supposed, but it was report- 
ed that he bad buried great treasures, a rumor, however absurd, 
not altogether inconsistent with bis character." 

" What was his character? " asked Mrs. Poyntz. 

" One of evil and sinister repute, lie was regarded with terror 
by the attendants who had accompanied him to Aleppo. Bat he 
had lived in a very remote part of the East, little known to 
Europeans, and, from all I could learn, had there established an 
extraordinary power, strengthened by superstitious awe. lie was 
said to have studied deeply that knowledge which the philosophers 
of old called 'occult,' not, like the Sage of Aleppo, for benevolent, 
but for malignant ends. . He was accused of conferring with evil 
spirits, and tilling his barbaric court (for he lived in a kind of 
savage royalty) with charmers and sorcerers. I suspect, after all, 
thai lie was only, like myself, an ardent antiquarian, and cunningly 
ma#e use of the fear he inspired in order to secure his authority, 
and prosecute, in safety, researches into ancient sepulchres or 
temples. His great passion was, indeed, in excavating guch re- 
mains iii his neighborhood, with what result I know not, never 
having penetrated so far into regions infested by robbers and pesti- 
ferous with malaria, lie wore the Eastern dress, and always car- 
ried jewels about him. ['came to the conclusion that for the sake 
of these jewels he was murdered, perhaps by some of his own 
servants, who then at once buried his body, and kept their own 
secrets. He was old, very infirm; could never have got far from 
the town without assistance." 

" You have not yet told his name," said Mrs. Poyntz. 

" His name was (Jrayle." 

" Qraylc ! " exclaimed Mrs. Poyntz, dropping her work, " Louis 
Cray lei" 

" Yes, Louis (Jrayle. You could not have known him ? " » 

. " Known him ! No. But I have often heard my father speak 

of him. Such, then, was the tragic end of that strong, dark creature, 



A STRANGE STORY. ' 75 

for whom, as a young girl in the nursery, 1 used to feel a Kind of 
feawfel, admiring interest '. " 

"It is your turn in narrate now," said the traveler. 

Ami we all drew closer round our hosiess, who remained silent 
some moments, bertyrow thoughtful, her work suspended. 

"Well," said she, at las(\ looking round us with a lofty air which 
seemed $alf defying; "force and courage are always fascinating, 
even when they arc quite in the wrong. 1 go with the world, 
because the world goes with me; if it did not — " Here she 
slopped for a moment, clenched the firm, white hand, and then 
scornfully waived it, left the sentence unfinished, and broke into 
another. 

.['Goingwitb the world, of course we must march over those 
who stand againsl it. But when one man stands single-handed 
against our march, we do not despise him; it is enough to crifsh. 
1 am very glad 1 did uoi see Louis Grayle when 1 was a girl of 
sixteen."' Again she paused a moment — and resumed: "Louis 
Grayle was the only son of an usurer, infamous for the rapacity 
wiih which he had acquired enormous wealth. Old Grayle desired 
to rear his heir as a gentleman; sent him to Eton; hoys are 
always aristocratic ; bis birth was soon thrown in his teeth; he 
was fierce; he struck hoys bigger than himself — fought till he was 
half killed. My fattier was a: school with him J described him as 
a tiger-whelp. One day b< — still a fag — struck a sixth-form l>:>y. 
Sixth-form hoys do not fighl fags — they punish them. Louis 
Grayle was ordered to hold out his hand to the cane; lie received 
the blow, drew forth his school-boy knife and stabbed the punisher. 
After that he left Eton. 1 don't think he was publicly expelled — 
too mere a child for that honor — hut he was taken or senl away; 
educated with great eare under thi first masters at home : when 
he was of age lo enter the University, old Grayle was dead. Lbuis 
Was senl !,\ ids guardians to Cambridge, with acquirements far 
. the average of young men, and with unlimited command 
of money. My father was ai the same college, ami described' him 
— haughty, quarrelsome, reckless, han rave. 

Does that kind of creature interest you, my dears?" (appealing to 
dies.) 

•• La ! " said Miss Brabazon ; " a horrid usurer's son ! " 

" . r proverb says it is good to he horn with a 

silver spoon in one's mouth; so it is when one has one's own 
family cresl on it; hut when it is a spoon on which people r 
ni/.e their family crest-, ami cry out, ' Stolen from our plate-cl ■ 
it is that outlaws a babe in his cradle. 11 

men ,: money are let* • scrupulous 

than ho; d are. ! ) Ip found, while at col 

plenty of well-born acquaintances willi iver from him 

father ha< He was 

wild ; : honors, hul my !■ 



76 A STRANGE STORY. 

said that the tutors of the college declared that there were not six 
undergraduates in (lie university who knew as much hard and dry 
science as Wild Louis Grayle. He went into the world, no doubt, 
hoping to shine,- but his father's name was too notorious to admit 
the son into good society. The Polite World, it is true, does not 
examine a scutcheon with the nice eye of a herald,. nor look upon 
riches with the stately contempt of a stoic — still, the Police World 
has its family pride and its moral sentiment. It does not like to 
be cheated — I mean in money matters — and when the son of the 
man who has emptied its purse and foreclosed on its acres, rides 
by its club windows, hand on haunch, and head in the air, no lion 
has a scowl more awful, no hyaena a laugh more dread, than that 
same easy, good-tempered, tolerant, polite, well-bred world which is 
so pleasant an acquaintance, so languid a friend, and— so remorseless 
an enemy. In short, Louis Grayle claimed the right to be court- 
ed — he was shunned ; to be admired — he was loathed. Even his. 
old college acquaintances were shamed out of knowing him. Per- 
haps he could have lived through all this had he sought to glide 
quietly into position; but he wanted the tact of the well-bred, and 
strove to storm his way, not to steal it. Reduced for companions 
to needy parasites, he braved and he shocked all decorous opinion 
by that ostentation of excess which made Richelieus and Lauzuns 
the rage. But then Richelieus and Lauzuns were dukes ! ' He 
now very naturally took the Polite World into hate — gave it scorn 
fur scorn. He would ally himself with Democracy ; his wealth 
could not get him into a club, but it would bi.y him into parliament ; 
he could not be a Lauzun, nor, perhaps, a Mirabeau ; but he might 
be a Danton. He had plenty of knowledge and audacity, and 
with knowledge and audacity a good hater is sure to be-eloquent, 
Possibly, then, this poor Louis Grayle might have made a great, 
figure, left his -mark on his age and his name in history; but in 
contesting the borough which he was sure to carry, he had to face 
an opponent in a real fine gentleman whom his father had ruined, 
coql and high-bred, with a tongue like a rapier, a sneer like an 
adder. A quarrel of course; Louis Grayle -sent a challenge. The 
fine gentleman, known to be no coward (fine gentlemen never are), 
was at first disposed to refuse with contempt, ■ But Grayle had 
made himself the idol of the mob ; and at a word from Grayle the 
fine gentleman might have been ducked at a pump, or tossed in a 
blanket — that would have made him ridiculous — to be shot at is a 
trifle, to be laughed at is serious. He therefore condescended to 
accept the challenge, and my father was his second. 

" It was settled, of course, according to English custom, that 
both combatants should fire at the same time, and by signal. The 
antagonist fired at the right moment ; his ball grazed Louis Grayle's 
le. Louis Grayle had not fired. Lie now seemed to the 
seconds to take slow and deliberate aim. They called cut to him 
not to fire — they were rushing to prevent him — when the trigger 



A STRANGE STORY. 7? 

\ 

was pulled and his opponent fell dead on the field. The fight was, 
therefore, considered unfair.; Louis Grayle was tried for his life; 
he did not stand the trial in person. He escaped to the oontinenl ; 
hurried on to some distant, uncivilized lands; could not be traced; 
reappeared in England no more* The lawyer who conducted 
his defence pleaded skilfully. He argued that the delay in firing 
was not intentional, therefore not criminal — the efiecl of the stun 
which the wound it the temple had occasioned. The Judge was 
a gentleman, and Summed up the evidence so as to direct the jun- 
to a, verdict against the low wretch who had murdered a gentle- 
man. But the jurors were riol gentlemen, and (irayle's advi 
had of cours? excited their sympathy for a son of the people 
whom a gentleman had wantonly insulted — the verdict was man- 
slaughter. Bui the sentence emphatically marked the aggravated 
nature of the homicide — three years' imprisonment. ' Srayle eluded 
the prison, but he was a man disgraced, his ambition blasted, his 
career an outlaw's, and his age not yet twenty-three. He left the 
country. My father said thai he was supposed to have changed 
his name ; none knew whal had become of him. And so in his 
old age this creature, brilliant and daring, whom if born under 
better auspices we might now he all fawning on, cringing to — after 
living to old age,' \u\ one knows how — dies, murdered at Aleppo, 
no one, you Bay, knows by whom." 

" 1 saw some account of his death in the papers, about three 
years ago," said one of the parly, " hut the name was misspelled, 
and 1 had no idea that it was the same man who had fought the 
duel'which Mrs. Colonel Poyiltz has so graphically described. 1 
have a vague recollection of the trial ; ii took place when I was a 
boy, more than forty years since. The affair made a stir at the 
time, but was soon forgotten." 

" Soon forgotten," said Mrs. Poyntz ; " ay. what is not ? Leave 

your place in the world for ten minutes, and when you come hack. 

somebody else has taken it ; hut when you leave the world for 

' good, who remembers that you had ever a [dace even in the parish 

register ! " 

" Nevertheless," said 1, " a great poet has said, finely and truly, 

" ' The sun of Hom< r shines apon us still.' " 

'* But It does not shine upon Homer ; and learned folks tell me 

that we know no mure who and what Homer was, if there was ever 
a single Homer at all, or rather a whole herd of Homers, than we 
know about the man in the moon — if there he one man there, or a 
million. Now, my dear Miss Brabazon, it will he very kind in you 
to divert our thoughts into channels less gloomy. Some pretty 

French air l>r. Fenwh k, 1 have something to say to you." 

She drew me toward the window. "So Anne AshPeigh writes 
me word that 1 am not to mention your engagement Do you 
think it quite prudent to keep it a secret ( " 



78 a strange; story. 

%;. 

" I do not see how prudence is concerned in keeping it secret 
one way or the'oiber — it is a mere mailer of feeling. Mostpeople 
wish to abridge, so far as they can, the time in which their private - 
arrangements are the topic of public gossip." ' 

ssip is sometimes the best securityjbr the due com- 
pletion of private arrangements. As long as a girl is not known 
to be engage;!, her betrothed must be prepared for rivals: Ari- 
be engagement and rivals are warned'eff." 

'• 1 fear no rivals." 

"Do you not ? Bol i man ! J suppose you will write to Lilian 1 " 
irtainly." 

" Do so, and constantly. By the way, Mrs. Ashleigh, before she 
went, asked me to send her back Lady Haughton's letter of in* 
vitation. What for? to show to you?" 

" Very likely. ■ Have you the letter still ? May T see it I " \. 

" Not just at present. When Lilian or Mrs. Ashleigh 'write -tS 
you, come and tell me how they like their visit, and what other 
guests form the ptrty." 

Therewith she turned away and conversed apart with the traveler. 
i' words disquieted me, and I felt that they were meant to do 
so. Wherefore, I could not guess. But. there is no language on 
earth which has more words with a double* meaning than that 
spoken by the Clever Woman, who is never so guarded as when 
sue appears to be frank. • 

As 1 walked home thoughtfully I was accosted by a young man, 
the son of one of the wealthiest merchants in the town. I had' 
tided him with success, some months before, in a rheumatic. 
i'vwv; lie and his family were much attached to me. 

" Ah, my dear Fenwick, I am so glad to see you ; I owe you an 
obligation of which you are not aware — an exceedingly pleasant 
traveling companion. I came with him to-day -from London, 
where L have been sight-seeing and holiday -making' tor the last 
fortnight." 

" 1 suppose you mean that you kindly bring me a patient ? " 

" No. only an admirer. I was staying at Fenton's Hotel. It so 
happened one day that I had left in the coffee-room your last work 
on the Vital Principle, which, by-t he-bye, the bookseller assures me 
is selling immensely among readers as non-professional as myself. 
(Joining into the coffee-room again I found a gentleman reading it. 
I claimed it politely; lie as politely tendered his excuse for taking 
it. # We made acquaintance on the spot. The next day we were 
intimate, lie expressed great interest and curiosity about your 
theory and your experiments. I told him I knew you. You may 
guess if 1 described you as less clever in your practice than you 

are in your writings. And, in short, he crime with me to L , 

partly to see our flourishing town, principally on my promise to 
introduce him to you. My mother, you know, has what she calls 
a dejeuner to'-morfow ; dejeuner and dance. You will be there ? " 



A STRANGE STORY. 79 

"Thank you for reminding me of her invitation, I "Will avail 

myself of ir if I can. Your new friend will be presenl .' Who and 
whiat is he ? A medical student 1 " 

"No, a mere gentleman at ease;, but seems to have a good deal 
of generallinformation. Very young; apparently very rich; won- 
derfully good-looking. 1 am sure you will like him ; everybody 
must," • 

" It is quite enough to prepare me to like him, that he is a friend 
01 yours." And SO we shook hands and parted. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

It was late in the afternoon of the following day before I was 
able to join the party assembled at the merchant's house; it was 

a villa about two miles out of the town, pleasantly situated, amidst 
flower-gardens celebrated in the neighborhood for their be. 
The breakfast had been long over; the company was scattered 
over the lawn ; some seated under shady awnings; others gliding 
amidst parterres, in which all the glow of color took a glory yet 
more vivid under the Hush of a brilliant sunshine, and the .ripple Of 
a soft western breeze. Music, loud and lively, mingled with the 
laughter of happy children, who formed much the larger number 
of the parly. 

Standing at the' entrance of an arched trellis, that led from the 
hardier flowers of the lawn to a 'rare collection of tropical plants 
under -a lofty glass dome (connecting* as it were, the familiar Vege- 
tation of the North with that of the remotest East.) was a form 
that instantaneously caught ami fixed my gaze. The entrance of 
the arcade was covered with parasite creepers in prodigal luxuri- 
, of variegated, gorgeous tints — scarlet, golden, purple — and 
the form, an idealized picture of man's youth fresh from the hand 
of Nature, stood literally in a frame of blooms. Never have 1 seen 
human face so radiant as that young man's. 

Therc'.was in the aspect an iudeserihable something that literally 
dazzled. As one continued to gaze, it was with surprise one was 
forced to acknowledge thai in the features themselves there wai no 
faultless regularity ; nor was the young man's stature imposing — 
about the middle height. But the effect of the whole was not less 
transcendent. Larue eyes, unspeakably lustrous ; a most harmoni- 
ous coloring ; an expression 'of contagious animation and joyous- 
D68S; and the form itself so critically tine that the wedded Strength 
of its sinews was best shown in the lightness and grace of it* 
Movements. , 



80 A STRANGE STORY. 

He was resfirtg one hand carelessly on the golden locks of a 
chikl thai had nestled itself against his knees, looking up in his 
lace in that silent loving Wonder with which children regard some- 
thing too strangely beau iful for noisy admiration ; he himself was 
conversing with the host, an old gray-haired, gouty man, propped 
on his crutch-stick, and listening with a look of mournful envy. 
To the wealth of the old man, all the flowers in that garden owed 
their renewed delight in the summer air and sun. Oh that his 
wealth could renew to himself one hour of the youth that stood 
beside him., lord, indeed, of Creation ; its splendor woven into 
his crown of beauty; its -enjoyments subject, to his sceptre of 
hope and gladness ! 

I was star) led by the hearty voice of ihe merchant's son : " Ah, 
my dear Fenwick, I .was afraid you would not come — you are 
late. There is the new friend of whom I spoke to you -last night ; 
let me now make you acquainted with him." He drew my arm 
is and led me up to the young man, where he stood under the 
arc-ling flowers, and whom he then introduced to me by the name 
of Margrave. 

Nothing could be more frankly cordial than Mr. Margrave's 
manner. In a few minutes I found myself conversing with him 
familiarly, as if we had been reared in the same home, and sported 
together on the same play-ground. His vein of talk w.its peculiar, 
and, careless, 'shifting from topic to topic, with a bright 
rapidity. 

He said that he lil ed the place ; proposed to stay in it some 
weeks ; asked my address, which I gave to him ; promised to call 
soon at an early hour, while my time was yet free from professional 
visits. I endeavored, when. I went away, to analyze to myself 
the fascination which this young stranger so notably exercised 
over all who approached him ; and it seemed to me, ever seeking 
to find material causes for all moral effects, that it arose from the 
contagious vitality of that rarest of all rare gifts in highly civil- 
ized circles — perfect health; that health which is in itself the most 
exquisite luxury, which, rinding happiness in the mere sense of 
existence, diffuses round it, like an atmosphere, the harmless hi- 
larity of its bright- animal being. Health, to the utmost perfec- 
tion, is seldom known after childhood ; health to the utmost can- 
not be enjoye'3 by those who overwork the brain, or admit the sure 
wear and tear of the passions. The creature 1 had just seen gave 
me the notion of youth in the golden age of the -poets — the youth 
of the careless Arcadian, before nymph or shepherdess had vexed 
his heart with a sigh. 



A STRAXGM STORY. 81 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



The home I occupied at L was a quaint, old-fashioned 

.building — a comer house — one side, in which was the front en- 
trance, looked upon a street which, as t here were no shops in it. and 
it was no direct thoroughfare to the busy centres of thrown, was 
always quiet, and al some hours of the day almost deserted. The 
other side of the house fronted a lane; opposite to it was the long 
and high wall of the garden to a Young Ladies' Boarding School. 
My stables adjoined the house, abutting on a row of smaller build- 
ings, with little gardens before them chiefly occupied by mercantile 
clerks and retired tradesmen. By the lane there was .short and 
ready access both to the high turnpLe-road and to some pleasant 
walks through green meadows and along the banks of a river. 

This house I had inhabited since my arrival at L , and it had 

to me so many attractions, in a situation sufficiently centra: lo be 
convenient for patients, and yet free from noise, and favorable to 
ready outlet into the country for such foot or horse exercise as my 
professional a vocations would allow me to carve for myself out) of 
what the Latin poet cabs the '-solid mass of the day," that 1 had 
refused to change it for one better suited to my increased income; 
but it was not a house which Mrs. Ashleigh would have liked for 
Lilian. The main objection to it, in the eyes of the "genteel," 
was. that it had formerly belonged to a member of the healing pro- 
fession, who united the shop of an apothecary to the diploma of a 
surgeon ; but that shop had given the house a special attraction to 
me; for it had been built out on that side of the house which 
fronted the lane, occupying the greater portion of a small gravel 
court, fenced from the road by a low iron palisade, and separated 
from the body of the house itself by a short and narrow corridor 
that communicated with the entrance-hall. -This shop 1 turned 
into a rude study fur scientific experiments in which I generally 
spent some early hours of the morning, before my visiting patients 
began to arrive. 1 enjoyed the stillness of its separation from the 
rest of the house ; I enjoyed the glimpse of the great chestnut- 
trees which overtopped the wall of the school garden ; 1 enjoyed 
the ease with which, by opening the glazed sash-door, I could get 
out, if disposed for a short walk, into the pleasant Gelds; and so 
completely had I made tins sanctuary my own, that not only my 
manservant knew that 1 was never to be disturbed when in it, ex- 
cept by iff summons of a patient, but even the house-maid was 
forbidden to enter it with broom or duster except upon special in- 
vitation. The last thing At night before retirina^o rest, it was the 
man-servant's business to see that the sash-window was closed and 
6 



82 A STRANGE STORY. 

the gate to the iron palisade locked, but during the daytime' I so 
often went out of the house by that private way that the gate was 
then very seldom locked, nor the sash-door bolted within. In the 
town of L there was very little apprehension of house-robbe- 
ries — especially in the daylight — and certainly in this room, cut off 
from the main building, there was nothing to attract a vulgar 
cupidity. A few of the apothecary's shelves and cases still re- 
mained on the walls, with here and there a bottle of some chemical 
preparation for experiment. Two or three worm-eaten wooden 
chairs ; two or three shabby old tables ; an old walnut-tree bureau, 
without a lock, into which odds-and-ends were confusedly thrust, 
and sundry ugly-looking inventions of mechanical science, were as- 
suredly not the articles which a timid proprietor would guard with 
jealous care from the chances of robbery. It will be seen later why 
I have been thus prolix in description. The morning after I had 
met the young stranger by whom I had been so favorably im- 
pressed, I was up, as usual, a little before the sun, and long before 
any of my servants were astir. I went first into the room I have 
mentioned, and which I shall henceforth designate as my study, 
opened the window, unlocked the gate, and sauntered for some 
minutes up and down the silent lane skirting the opposite wall and 
overhung by the chestnut-trees, rich in the garniture of a glorious 
sutnnter; then, refreshed for work, I reentered my study, and was 
soon absorbed in the examination of that now well-known machine, 
which was then, to me at least, a novelty — invented, if I remember 
right, by Monsieur Dubois Reynolds, so distinguished by his re- 
searches into the mysteries of organic electricity. It is a wooden 
cylinder fixed against the edge of a table ; on the table two vessels 
filled with salt and water are so placed that, as you close your hands 
on the cylinder, the forefinger of each hand can drop into the 
water ; each of the vessels has a metallic plate, and communicates 
by wires with a galvanometer with its needle. Now the theory is, 
that if you clutch the cylinder firmly with the right hand, leaving 
the left perfectly passive, the needle in the galvanometer will move 
from west to south ; if, in like manner, you exert the left arm, leav- 
ing the right arm passive, the needle will deflect from west to mirth. 
Hence, it is argued that the electric current is induced through the 
agency of the nervous system, and that as human Will produces 
the muscular contraction requisite, so is it human Will that causes 
the deflection of the needle. I imagined that if this theory were 
substantiated' by experiment, the discovery might lead to Some 
sublime and unconjectured secrets of science. For human Will, 
thus actively effective on the electric current, and all matter, ani- 
mate or inanimate, having more or less of electricity, a vast field 
became opened to conjecture. By what series of patient experi- 
mental deduction'might not science arrive at the solution of pro- 
blems which the Newtonian law of gravitation does not suffice to 
solve ; and-- — But I must not suffer myself to be led away into 



A STRANGE STORT. 83 

the vasrue world of guess by the vague reminiscences of a knowl- 
edge long since wholly neglected, or half forgotten. 

I was dissatisfied with ray experiment. The needle stirred, in- 
deed, but erratically, and not in directions which, according to the 
theory, should correspond to my movement. I was about to dis- 
miss the trial with some uncharitable contempt of the French 
philosopher's dogmas, when I heard a loud ring at my street door. 
While 1 paused to conjecture whether my servant was yet up to at- 
tend to the door, and which of my patients was the most likely to 
summon me at so unseasonable an hour, a shadow darkened my 
window. I looked up, and to my astonishment beheld the brilliant • 
face of Mr. Margrave. The sash to the door was already partially 
opened ; he raised it higher and walked into the room. " Was it 
you who rang at the street door, and. at this hour?" said I. 

"Yes; and observing after I had rung, that all the shutters 
were still closed, I felt ashamed of my own rash action, and made 
off rather than brave the reproachful face of some injured house- 
maid, robbed of her morning dreams. I turned down that pretty 
lane — lured by the green of the chestnut-trees — caught sight of you 
through the window, took courage, and here I am ! You forgive 
me.'" While thus speaking he continued to move along the lit- 
tered floor of the dingy room with the undulating restlessness of 
some wild animal in the confines of its den, and he now went on, in 
short fragmentary sentences, very slightly linked together, but 
smoothed, as it were, into harmony by a voice musical and fresh as 
a skylark's warble. " Morning dreams, indeed ! dreams that waste 
the life of such a morning. Rosy magnificence of a summer dawn ! 
Do you not pity the fool who prefers to lie abed, and to dream 
rather than to live? What ! and you, strong man, with those noble 
limbs, in this den ! Do you not long for a rush through the green 
of the fields, a bath in the blue of the river 1" 

Here he came to a pause, standing, still in the gray light of the 
growing day, with eyes whose joyous lustre forestalled the sun's, 
and lips which seemed to laugh even in repose. 

Bui presently those eyes, as quick as they were bright, glanced 
over the walls, the floor, the shelves, the phials, the mechanical in- 
ventions, and then rested full on my cylinder fixed to the table. 
He approached, examined it curiously, asked what it was I I ex- 
plained. To gratify him, I sat down, and renewed my experiment, 
with equally ill success. The needle, which should have moved 
from west to south, describing an angle of from 30 deg. to 40 or 
even 50 deg. only made a few troubled undecided oscillations. 

"Tut!" cried the young man, " I see what it is; you have a 
wound in your right hand." 

Thai was true. I had burned my hand a few days before in a 
chemical experiment, and the sore had not healed. 

" Well," said I. "and what does that mailer?" 

" Everything ; the least scratch in the skin of the hand produces 



84 A STRANGE STORY. 

chemical actions on the electric current, independently of your 
will. Let me try." 

He took my place, and in a moment the needle in the galva- 
nometer responded to his grasp on the cylinder, exactly as the 
French philosopher had stated to be I he due result of the experiment. 

I was startled. 

" But how came you, Mr. Margrave, to be so ^ell acquainted 
with a scientific process little known, and but recently discovered V 

" I well acquainted ! not so. But I am fond of all experiments 
that relate to animal life. Electricity especially is full of interest." 

On that J drew him out (as I thought), and he talked volubly. I 
was amazed to find this young man. in whose brain I had conceived 
thought kept, one careless holiday, was evidently familiar with the 
physical sciences, and especially with chemistry, which was ray own 
study by predilection. But never had I met with a student in 
whom a knowledge so extensive was mixed up with notions so 
obsolete or so crotchety. In one sentence he showed that he had 
mastered some late discovery by Faraday or Liebig ; in the next 
sentence he was talking the wild fallacies of Cardan or Vn Hel- 
mont. I burst out laughing at some paradox about sympathetic 
powders, which he enounced as if it were a recognized truth. 

" Pray tell me," said I, "who was your master in physics, for a 
cleverer pupil never had a more crack-brained teacher." 

" No," lie answered, with his merry laugh, "it is not the teach- 
er's fault. I am a mere parrot ; just cry out a few scraps of learn- 
ing picked up here and there. But, however, I am fond of all 
researches into nature ; all guesses at her riddles. To tell you the 
truth, one reason why I have taken to you so heartily is not only 
that, your published work caught my fancy in the dip which I 
took into the contents (pardon me if I say dip, I never do more 
than dip into any book), but also because young * * * * tells me 
that which all whom I have met in this town confirm ; namely, 
that you are one of those few practical chemists who are at once 
exceedingly cautious and exceedingly bold — willing to. try every 
new experiment, but. submitting experiment to rigid tests. Well, I 
have an experiment running wild in this giddy head of mine, and I 
want, you, .some day when at leisure, to catch it, fix it as you have 
fixed that cylinder: make something of it. I am sure you can." 

" What is it ?" 

" Something akin to the theories in your work. You would re- 
plenish or preserve to each special constitution the special sub- 
stance that may fail to the equilibrium of its health. But you own 
that in a large proportion of cases, the best cure of disease is less 
to deal with the disease itself than to support and stimulate the 
whole system, so as to enable nature to cure the disease and re- 
store the impaired equilibrium by her own agencies. Thus, if you 
find "that in certain cases of nervous debility a substance like nitric 
.acid is efficacious, it is because the nitric, acid has a virtue in lock- 



A STRANGE STORY: 85 

ing up, as it were, the nervous energy, that, is, preventing all undue 
waste. Again, in some eases of what is commonly called feverish 
cold, stimulants like ammonia assist nature itself to get rid of the 
disorder that oppresses its normal action ; and, on the same princi- 
ple, 1 apprehend, it is contended that a large average of human 
lives is saved in those hospitals which have adopted the supporting 
system of ample nourishment and alcoholic stimulants." 

"Your medical learning surprises me," said I, smiling, "and 
without pausing to notice where it deals somewhat superficially 
with disputable points in general, and my own theory in particular, 
1 ask you for the deduction you draw from your premises." 

"It is simply tins: that to all animate bodies, however various, 
there must be one principle in common — the vital principle itself. 
What if there he one certain means of recruiting that principle .' 
and what if that secret can he discovered ?" 

" Pshaw ! The old illusion of the medieval empiri 

" Not so. But the medieval empirics were great discoverers. 
You sneer at Van llelmont, who sought in water the principle of 
all things; but Van llelmont discovered in his search those in- 
visible bodies called gases. Now the principle, of life must 
certainly be ascribed to a gas.* And whatever is a gas, chemistry 
should not despair of producing ! But I can argue no longer now 
— never can argue long at a stretch — we are wasting the morning ; 
and joy! the sun is up! See! Out! come out! out! and greet 
the great Life-giver face to face." 

I could not resist the young man's invitation. In a few minutes 
we were in the quiet lane under the glinting chestnut-trees. 
Margrave was chanting, low, a wild tune — words in a strange 
language. 

" What words are those! no European language, I think; for 1 
know a little of most of the languages which are spoken in our 
quarter of the globe, at least by its more civilized races." 

" Civilized races ! What is civilization I Those words were 
uttered by men who founded empires when Europe itself was not 
civilized ! Hush, is it not a grand old air ? " and lifting his eyes 
towards the sun, he gave vent to a voice clear and deep as a mighty 
bell! The air was grand — the words had a sonorous swell that 
suited it, and they seemed to me jubilant and yet solemn. lie 
stopped abruptly, as a path from the lane had led us into the fields, 
already half-bathed in sunlight — dews glittering on the hedge- 
row*;. 

" Your song," said I, "would go well with the clash of cymbals 
or the peal of the organ. 1 am no judge of melody, but this 
strikes me as that of a religious hymn." 

" I compliment you oh the guess. It is a Persian fire-worship,- 

* According to the views we have mentioned, we must ascribe life to a gas, 
tli.n is, to an aeriform body. — Liebig, Organic Chemistry, Flavian's transla- 
tion, p. JO J. 



86 A STRANGE STORY. 

per'8 hymn to the sun. The dialect is very different from modern 
Persian. Cyras the Great might have chanted it on his march 
upon Babylon." 

•• And where did you learn it 1 " 

"In Persia itself/' 

" Yon have traveled much — learned much — and are so young and 
so fresh. Is it an impertinent question if I ask whether your 
parents are yet living, or are you wholly lord of yourself? " 

" Thank you for the question — pray make my answer known in 
the rown. Parents I nave not — never had." 

" Never had parents ! " 

" Well, I ought rather to say that no parents ever owned me. I 
am a natural son — a vagabond — a nobody. When I came of age 
I received an anonymous letter, informing me that a sum — I need 
not say what — but more than enough for all I need, was lodged at 
an English banker's in my name ; that my mother had died in my 
infancy ; that my father was also dead — but recently ; that as I 
was a child of love, and he was unwilling that the secret of my 
birth should ever be traced, he had provided for me, not by will, 
but in his life, by a sum consigned to the trust of the friend who 
now wrote to me ; I need give myself no trouble to learn more ; 
faith, I never did. I am young, healthy, rich — yes, rich ! Now 
you know all, and you had better tell it, that I may win no man's 
courtesy and no maiden's love upon false pretences. I have not 
even a right, you see, to the name I bear. Hist ! let me catch 
that squirrel." 

With what a panther-like bound he sprang! The squirrel 
eluded his grasp and was up the oak-tree; in a moment he was up 
the oak-tree too. In amazement I saw him rising from bough to 
bough ; saw his bright eyes and glittering teeth through the green 
leaves; presently I heard the sharp, piteous cry of the squirrel — 
echoed by the youth's merry laugh — and down, through that maze 
of green, Margrave came, dropping on the grass and bounding up 
as mercury might have bounded with his wings at his heels. 

" i have caught him — what pretty brown eyes ! " 

.Suddenly the gay expression of his face changed to that of a 
savage; the squirrel had wrenched itself half loose and bitten him. 
The poor brute I In an instant his neck was wrung — its body 
dashed on the ground ; and that fair young creature, every feature 
quivering with rage, was stamping his foot on his victim again 
and again ! It was horrible. I caught him by the arm indignant- 
ly, lie turned round on me like a wild beast disturbed from its 
prey — his teeth set, his hand lifted, his eyes like balls of fire. 

" Shame! " said I, calmly ; " shame on you ! " 

He continued to gaze on me a moment or so — his eye glaring, 
his breath panting — and then, as if mastering himself with an in- 
voluntary effort, his arm dropped to his side, and he said, quite 
humbly, " I beg your pardon ; indeed I do. I was beside myself 



A STRANGE STORY. 87 

for a moment ; 1 cannot bear pain ; " and ho looked in deep com- 
passion for himself at Ids wounded hand; " Venomous brute ! " 
And lie stamped again on the body of the squirrel, already crushed 
ohi of shape. 

1 moved away in disgust, and walked on. 

But presently I felt my arm softly drawn aside, and a voice, . 
dulcet as the coo of a dove, stole its way into my ears. There 
was no resisting the charm with which this extraordinary mortal 
could fascinate even the hard and the cold; nor them, perhaps, 
the least. For as you see in extreme old age, when the heart 
seems to have shrunk into itself, and to leave, hut meagre and 
nipped affections for the nearesl relations, if grown up, the indurated 
egotism softens at once toward a playful child; or as you see in 
middle life some misanthrope, whose nature has been soured by 
wrong and sorrow, shrink IVom his own species, yet make friends 
with inferior races, and respond to the caress of a dog — so, for the 
worldling or the cynic, there was an attraction in the freshness of 
this joyous favorite of nature; — an attraction like that of a beau- 
tiful child, spoilt and wayward, or of a graceful animal, half docile, 
half tierce. 

■• But," said I, with a smile, as I felt all displeasure gone, "such 
indulgence of passion for such a trifle is surely unworthy a student 
of philosophy." 

" Trifle," lie said dolorously. " But I tell you it is pain; pain 
is no trifle. I suffer. Look ! " 

1 looked at the hand, which I took in mine. The bite no doubt 
had been sharp; but the hand that lay in my own was thai which 
the Greek sculptor gives to a gladiator; not large (the extremities 
are never large in a person whose strength comes from the just 
proportion of all the members, rather than the factitious and partial 
force which continued muscular exertion will give to one part of 
the frame, to the comparative weakening of the rest), but with the 
firm-knit joints, the solid fingers, the finished nails, the massive 
palm, the supple polished skin in which we recognize what nature 
designs the human hand to he — the skilled, swift, mighty doer of 
all those marvels which win Nature herself from the wilderness. 

" It is strange." said I. thoughtfully ; " but your susceptibility 
to suffering confirms my opinion, which is different from the popu- 
lar belief, viz : that pain is most acutely felt by those in whom the 
animal organization being perfect, ami the sense of vitality ex- 
quisitely keen, every injury or lesion finds the whole system rise, 
as it were, td repel the mischief and commit conscioui 

of it to all those nerves which are the sentinels to the garrison of 
life. Yet my theory is scarcely borne out by general fact. The 
Indian savages must have a health as perfect as yours ; a nervous 

system as fine. Witness their marvelous accuracy of ear. of eye. 

■ ■nt, probably also Of tOUCh, yel they are indifferent to physical 
pain ; or must 1 mortify your pride by saying that they Lave some 



8S A STRANGE STORY. 

moral quality defective in you which enables them to rise superior 
to it." 

"The Indian savages," said Margrave, sullenly, "have not a 
health as perfect as mine, and ill what you call vitality — the bliss 
ful consciousness of life — they are as sticks and stones compared 

to llio." 

"How do you know"? " 

" Because I have lived with them. It is a fallacy to suppose 
that I lie savage has a health superior to that of the civilized man — 
if the civilized man be but temperate, — and even if not, he has a 
stamina that cau resist for years what would destroy the savage in 
a month. As to their tine perceptions of sense, such do not come 
from exquisite equilibrium of system, but are hereditary attributes 
transmitted from race to race, and strengthened by training from 
infancy. But is a pointer stronger and healthier than a mastitf, 
hecar.se the pointer through long descent and early teaching creeps 
stealthily to his game and stands to it motionless f I will talk of 
this later ; now 1 suffer ! Pain, pain ! Has life any ill but pain 1 " 

It so happened that I had about me some roots of 'the white lily, 
which I meant, before returning home, to leave with a patient 
suffering from one of those acute local inflammations, in which that 
simple remedy often affords great relief. I cut up one of these 
roots, and bound the cooling leaves to the wounded hand with my 
handkerchief. 

"There," said I. "Fortunately, if you fc J el pain more sensibly 
than others, you will recover from it more quickly." 

And in a lew minutes my companion felt perfectly relieved, and 
poured out his gratitude with an extravagance of expression and a 
beaming delight of countenance which positively touched me. 

" I almost feel," said I," as I do when I have stilled an infant's 
wailing, and restored it smiling to its mother's breast." 

" You have done so. I am an infant, and Nature is my mother. 
Oh, to be restored to the full joy of life, the scent of wild flowers, 
the song of birds, and this air — summer air — summer air! " 

I know not why it was, but at that moment, looking at him and 
hearing him, I rejoiced that Lilian was not at L . 

" But I came out to bathe. Can we not bathe in that stream"'? " 

" No. You would derange the bandage round your hand ; and 
for all bodily ills, from the least to the greatest, there is nothing 
like leaving Nature at rest the moment we have hit on the means 
which assist her own efforts at cure." 

" I obey, then, but I do so love the water." 

'• You swim, of course ? " 

" Ask the fish if it swim. Ask the fish if it can escape me ! I 
delight to dive down — down; to plunge after the startled trout, as 
an otter does ; and then to get among those cool, fragrant reeds 
and bulrushes, or the forest of emerald weed which one sometimes 
finds waving under clear rivers. Man ! man ! could you live but 



A STRANGB STORY. 89 

an hour of my life you would know how horrible a thing it is to 
die ! " 

'*Yet the dying do not think so; they pass away calm and 
smiling, as you will one day." 

"I — I! die one day — die!" and he sank on the grass, and 
buried his face among the herbage, sobbing aloud. 

Before I could get through half a dozen words, meant to soothe, 
he had once more hounded up, dashed I he tears from his eyes, and 
was again singing some wild, barbaric chant. I did not disturb 
him; in fact 1 sunn grew absorbed in my own meditations on the 
singular nature, so wayward, so impulsive, which had forced in- 
timacy on a man so grave and practical as myself. 

1 was puzzled how to reconcile so passionate a childishness, so 
undisciplined a want of self-control, with an experience of mankind 
so extended by travel, with an education, desultory arid irregular 
indeed, but which must have been at sonic lime or other familiar- 
ized to severe reasonings and laborious studies. There seemed to 
be wanting in him that mysterious something which is needed to 
keep our faculties, however severally brilliant, harmoniously linked 
together — as the string by which a child mechanically binds the 
wild flowers it gathers, shaping them at choice into the garland or 
the chain. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

My intercourse with Margrave grew habitual and familiar. \'u- 
came to my house every morning before sunrise ; in the evenings 
we were again brought together: sometimes in the houses to 
which we were both invited, sometimes at his hotel, sometimes in 
my own home. 

Nothing more perplexed me than his aspect of extreme youth- 
fulness, contrasted with the extent of Ihe travels, which, if he were 
to be believed, had left lit lie of the known world unexplored. One 
day I asked him, bluntly, how old lie was. 

" How old do 1 look ? How old should you suppose me to be .'" 

" I should have guessed you to be about twenty, till you spoke of 
having come of age some years ago." 

" Is it a sign of longevity when a man looks much younger than 
he is?" 

"Conjoined with other signs, certainly' ! " 

" Have I the other signs >." 

"Yes, a magnificent, perhaps matchless, constitutional organ- 
ization, lint you have evaded my question as to your age ; was it 
an impertinence to put it?" 

" No. 1 came of age — let me see — three years ago." 



90 A STRANGE STORY. 

" So long since 1 Is it possible ? I wish I had your secret ! " 

" Secret ! What secret ? " 

" The secret of preserving so much of boyish freshness in' the 
wear and tear of man-like passions and man-like thoughts." 

" You are still young yourself — under forty 1 " 

" Oh yes ! some years under forty." 

" And Nature gave you a much grander frame and a much finer 
symmetry of feature than she gave to me." 
" " Pood ! pooh ! You have the beauty that must charm the eyes 
of woman, and that beauty in its sunny forenoon of youth. Happy 
man ! if you love — and wish to be sure that you are loved again." 

" What you call love — the unhealthy sentiment, the feverish 
folly — I left behind me, I think forever, when — •" 

" Ay, indeed — when 1" 

" I came of^ge !" 

" Hoary cynic ! and you despise love ! So did I once. Your 
time may come." 

" I think not. Does any animal, except man, love its fellow 
she-animal as man loves woman ? " 

" As man loves woman ? No, I suppose not." 

" And why should the subject-animals be wiser than their king 1 
But, to return — you would like to have my youth and my careless 
enjoyment of youth ] " 

" Can you ask — who would not 1 " Margrave looked at me for 
a m6ment with unusual seriousness, and then, in the abrupt changes 
common to his capricious temperament, began to sing softly one of 
his barbaric chants— a chant different from any I had heard him 
sing before — made either by the modulation of his voice or the 
nature of the tune — so sweet that, little as music generally affected 
mej this thrilled to my very heart's core. I drew closer and closer 
to him, and murmured when he paused, 

" Is not that a love-song?" 

"No," said he, "it is the song by which the serpent-charmer 
charms the serpent." 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

Increased intimacy with my new acquaintance did not diminish 
the charm of his society, though it brought to light some startling 
defects, both in his mental and moral organization. I have before 
said that his knowledge, though it had swept over a wide circuit 
and dipped into curious, unfrequented recesses, was desultory, and 
erratic. It certainly was not that knowledge, sustained and as- 
piring, which the poet assures is " the wing on which we mount 
to heaven." So, in his faculties themselves there were singular 



A STRANGE STORY. 91 

inequalities, ov contradictions. His power of memory in some 
things seemed prodigious ; bul when examined it was seldom ac- 
curate; it could apprehend, bul did not hold together with a 
binding grasp, what metaphysicians call "complex ideas.*' He 
thus seemed unable to put it to any steadfast purpose in the 
sciences of which it retained, vaguely and loosely, many recondite 
principles. For the sublime and beautiful in literature he had no 
taste whatever. A passionate lover of nature, his imagination had 
no response to the arts by which nature is expressed or idealized ; 
wholly unaffected by poetry or painting. Of the fine arts, music 
alone attracted and pleased him. His conversation was often 
imminently suggestive, touching on much, whether in books or 
mankind, that set one thinking; but I never remember him to 
have uttered any of those lofty or tender sentiments winch form 
the connecting links between youth and genius. For if poets sing 
to the young, and the young hail their own interpreters in poets, 
it is because the tendency of both is to idolize the realities of life, 
finding everywhere in the Real a something that is noble or fair, 
and making the fair yet fairer, and the noble nobler still. 

In Margrave's character there seemed no special vices, no 
special virtues ; but a wonderful vivacity, joybusness, animal good- 
humor. He was singularly temperate, having a dislike to wine, 
perhaps from that purity of taste which belongs to health abso- 
lutely perfect. No healthful child likes alcohols, no animal, except 
man, prefers wine to water. 

But his main moral defect seemed tome, in a want of sympathy, 
even where he professed attachment. He who could feel so acutely 
for himself, be unmanned at the bite of a squirrel, and sob at the 
thought that he should one day die. was as callous to the sufferings 
of another as a deer who deserts and butts from him a wounded 
comrade. 

I give an instance of this hardness of heart where I should have 
leasl expected to find it in him. 

He had met and joined me as I was walking to visit a patient 
on the outskirts of the town, when we fell in with a group of 
children, just let loose for an hour or two from their day-school. 
Some of these children joyously recognized him as having played 
with them at their homes; they ran up to him, and he seemed as 
glad as themselves at the meeting. 

He suffered them to drag him along with them, and became as 
merry and sportive as the youngest of the troop. 

"Well," said I, laughing, " if you are going to play at Leap-frog, 
pray don't let it be on the. high road, or you will be run over by 
carts and draymen; see thai meadow just in front to the left — off 
witli you there ! " 

"With all my heart." cried Margrave, "while you pay your 
visit. Conic along, boys." 



92 A STRANGE STORY. 

A little urchin, not above six years old, but who was lame, began 
to cry, he could not run — he should be left behind. 

Margrave stopped. " Climb on my shoulder, little one, and I'll 
be your horse." 

The child dried its tears, and delightfully obeyed., 

" Certainly," said I, to myself, " Margrave, after all, must have 
a nature as gentle as it is simple. What other- .young man, so 
courted by all the allurements that steal innocence from pleasure, 
would stop in the thoroughfares to play with children ? " 

The thought had scarcely passed through my mind when I 
heard a scream of agony. Margrave had leaped the railing that 
divided the meadow from the road, and in so doing the poor child, 
perched on his shoulder, had, perhaps from surprise or fright, 
loosened its hold, and fallen heavily. Its cries were piteous. Mar- 
grave clapped his hands to his ears — uttered an exclamation of 
anger — and not even stopping to lift up the boy, or examine 
what the hurt was, called to the other children to come on, and 
was soon rolling with them on the grass, and pelting thjem with 
daisies. When I came up, oidy one child remained by the suf- 
ferer — its little brother, a year older than itself. The child had 
fallen on its arm, which was not broken, but violently contused. 
The pain must have been intense. I carried the child to its home, 
and had to remain there some time. I did not see Margrave till 
the next morning, when he then called. I felt so indignant that I 
could scarcely speak to him. When at last I rebuked him for his 
inhumanity, he seemed surprised ; with difficulty remembered the 
circumstance, and then merely said — as if it were the most natural 
confession in the world — 

" Oh, nothing so discordant as a child's wail. 1 hate discords. 
I am pleased with the company of children ; but they must be 
children who laugh and play. Well! why do you look at me in 
that way 1 What have I said to shock you ! " 

" Shock me — you shock manhood itself! Go ; I caa't talk to 
you now. I am busy." 

But he did not go ; and his voice was so sweet, and his ways 
so winning, that disgust insensibly melted into that sort of for- 
giveness one accords (let me repeat the illustration) to the deer 
that forsakes its comrade. The poor thing knows no better. And 
what a graceful, beautiful thing this w T as ! 

The fascination — I can give it no other name — which Margrave 
exercised was not confined to me ; it was universal — old, young, 
high, low, man, woman, child, all felt it. Never in Low Town 
had stranger, even the most distinguished by fame, met with a 
reception so cordial — so flattering. His frank confession that he 
was a natural son, far from being to his injury, served to interest 
people more in him, and to prevent all those inquiries in regard to 
his connections and antecedents, which would otherwise have been 
afloat. To be sure, he was evidently rich ; at least he had plenty 



A STRANOE STORY. 93 

of money. He lived in the best rooms of the principal hotel ; was 
very hospitable; entertained the families with whom he had grown 
intimate; made them bring their children — music and dancing 
after dinner. Among the houses in which lie had established 

familiar acquaintance was that of the mayor of the town, who had 
bought Dr. Lloyd's collection of subjects in natural history. To 
thai collection the mayor had added largely by a very recent 
purchase. He had arranged these various specimens, which his 
last acquisitions had enriched by the interesting carcases of an 
elephant and a hippopotamus, in a large wooden building con- 
tiguous to his dwelling,and which had been constructed by a former 
rietor (a retired foxdmnter) as a riding house. And being a 
man who much affected the diffusion of knowledge, he proposed 
to open this museum to the admiration of the general public, and 
at his death So bequeath it to the Athenaeum or Literary Institute 
of his native town. Margrave; seconded by the influence of the 

mayor's daughters, had scarcely been three days at L before 

he had persuaded this excellent and public-spirited functionary to 
inaugurate the opening of his museum by the papular ceremony 
of a, hall. A temporary corridor should unite the drawing- 
rooms, which were on the ground-floor, with the building that 
contained the collection ; and thus the fete would he elevated 
above the frivolous character of a fashionable amusement, and 
consecrated to the solemnization of an intellectual institute. 
Dazzled by the brilliancy of this idea, the mayor announced his 
intention to give a ball that should include the surrounding neigh- 
borhood, and he worthy, in all expensive respects, of the dignity 
of himself and the occasion. A night had been fixed for the ball — 
a night that became, memorable indeed to me! The entertain- 
ment was anticipated with a lively interest, in which even the Hill 
condescended to share. The Hill did not much patronize mayors 
in general; but when a mayor gaTKG a ball for a purpose so patri- 
otic, and on a scale so splendid, the Hill literally acknowledged 
that Commerce was, on the whole, a thing which the Eminence 
might, now and then, condescend to acknowledge without abso- 
lutely derogating from the rank which Providence had assigned 
to it among the High Places of earth. Accordingly, the Hill was 
permitted by its Queen to honor the first magistrate of Low Town 
by a promise to attend his ball. Now, as ibis festivity had ori- 
ginated in the suggestion of Margrave, so, by a natural association 
of ideas, every one, in talking of the ball, talked also of .Margrave. 
The Hill had at first affected to ignore a stranger whose debut 
had been made in the mercantile circle of Low Town. But the 
Queen of the 1 Hill now said, sententiously, " TftiB new man in a 
few days has become a Celebrity. It is the policy of the 'Hill to 
adopt Celebrities, if the Celebrities pay respect to the Proprieties. 
Dr. Fen wick is requested to procure Mr. Margrave the advantage 
of being known to the Hill." 



\ 

94 A STRANGE STORY. 

I found it somewhat difficult to persuade Margrave to accept 
the Hill's condescending overture. He seemed to have a dislike 
to all societies pretending to aristocratic distinction — a dislike 
expressed with a fierceness so unwonted that it made one suppose 
he had at some time or other been subjected to mortification by 
the supercilious airs that blow upon heights so elevated. How- 
ever, he yielded to my instances, and accompanied me one evening 
to Mrs. Poyntz's house. The Hill was encamped there for the 
occasion. Mrs. Poyntz was exceedingly civil to him, and after a 
few commonplace speeches, hearing that he was fond of music, 
consigned him to the caressing care of Miss Brabazon, who was 
at the head of the musical department in the Queen of the Hill's 
administration. 

Mrs. Poyntz retired to her favorite seat near the window, invi- 
ting me to sit beside her; and while she knitted in silence, in 
silence my eye glanced toward Margrave in the midst of the group 
assembled round the piano. 

Whether he was in more than usually high spirits, or whether 
he was actuated by a malign and impish desire to upset the es- 
tablished laws of decorum by which the gayeties of the Hill were 
habitually subdued into a serene and somewhat pensive pleasant- 
ness, I know not; but it was not many minutes before the orderly 
aspect of the place was grotesquely changed. 

Miss Brabazon having come to the close of a complicated and 
dreary sonata, I heard Margrave abruptly ask her if she could play 
the Tarantella, that famous Xeopolitan air which is founded on 
the legendary belief that the bite of the tarantula excites an irre- 
sistible desire to dance. On that high-bred spinster's confession 
that she was ignorant of the air, and had not even heard of the 
legend, Margrave said, "Let me play it to you, with variations of 
my own." Miss Brabazon graciously yielded her place at the 
instrument. Margrave seated himself — there was great curiosity 
to hear his performance. Margrave's fingers rushed over the keys, 
and there was a general start, the prelude was so unlike any 
known combination of harmonious sounds. Then he began a 
chant — song I can scarcely call it — words certainly not in Italian, 
perhaps in some uncivilized tongue, perhaps in impromptu gib- 
berish. And the torture of the instrument now commenced in 
good earnest : it shrieked, it groaned : wilder and noisier. Bee- 
thoven's ^Storm, roused by the fell touch of a German pianist, were 
mild in comparison; and the mighty voice, dominating the an- 
guish of the cracking keys, had the, full diapason of a chorus. 
Certainly I amuno judge of music, but to my ear the discord was 
terrific — to the ears of better informed amateurs it seemed ravish- 
ing. All were spell-bound ; even Mrs. Poyntz paused from her 
knitting, as the Fates -paused from their web at the lyre of Or- 
pheus. To this breathless delight, however, soon succeeded a 
general desire for movement. To my amazement, I beheld these 



A STRANGE STORY. 95 

former matrons and sober fathers of families forming themselves, 
into a dance, turbulent as a children's hall at Christmas. And 
when, suddenly desisting from his music, Margrave started up 
caught the skeleton band of lean Miss: Brabazon, and whirled bar 
into the centre of the dance, I could have fancied myself at a 
witch's sabhat. My eye turned in scandalized alarm toward 
Mrs. Poyntz. That great creature seemed as much astounded as 
ni) self. Her eyes were fixed on the scene in a stare of positive 
stupor. For the first time, no doubt, in her life, she was over- 
come, deposed, dethroned. The awe of her presence was literally 
whirled away. The dance ceased as suddenly as it had begun. 
Darting from the galvanized mummy whom he had selected as his 
partner, Margrave shot to Mrs. Poyntz's side, and said, "Ten. 
thousand pardons for quitting you so soon, hut the clock warns me 
that I have an engagement elsewhere." In another moment he 
was gone. 

The dance halted, people seemed slowly returning to their 
senses, looking at each other bashfully and ashamed. 

"I'could not help it, dear," sighed Miss Brabazon at last, sink- 
ing into a chair, and casting her deprecating, fainting eyes upon 
the hostess. 

"It is witchcraft," said fat Mrs. Bruce, wiping her forehead.. 

" Witchcraft ! " echoed Mrs. Poyntz, "it does inded look like it. 
An amazing and portentous exhibition of animal spirits, and not to 
be endured by the Proprieties. Where on earth can that young 
savage have come from ? " 

" From savage lands," said I. " So he says." 

" Do not bring him here again," said Mrs. Poyntz. " He would 
soon turn the Hill topsy-turvy. But how charming! I should 
like to see more of him," she added in an under voice, "if he would 
call on me some morning, and not in the presence of those for whose 
Proprieties 1 am responsible. Jane must be out in her ride will; 
the Colonel." 

Margrave never again attended the patrician festivities of rhe 
Hill. Imitations were poured upon him, especially by Miss 
Brabazon and the other old maids, but in vain. 

" Those people," said he, " are too tame and civilized for me ; 
and so few young persons among them. Even that girl Jane is 
only young on the surface; inside, as old as the World or her 
mother. 1 like youth, real youth — 1 am young, 1 am young ! " 

And indeed, I observed that he would attach himself to some 
young person, often to some child, as if with cordial and special 
favor, yet Air not more than an hour or so, never distinguishing 
them by the same preference when he next met them. I made the 
remark to him, in rebuke of his fickleness, one evening when he 
had found nie at work on my ambitious book, reducing to rule and 
measure the Laws of Nature. 

" It is not fickleness," said he, " it is necessity." 



96 a strAnge story. 

" Necessity ! Explain yourself." 

" I seek 1o find what I have not found," said he; " it is my ne- 
cessity to seek it, and among the young- ; and disappointed in one, I 
turn to the other. Necessity again. But find it as last I must." 

" I suppose you mean what the young usually seek in the young; 
and if, as you said the other day, you have left love behind you, 
you now wander back; to re-find it." 

" Tush ! If I may judge by the talk of young fools, love may 
be found every day by him who looks oilt for it, What I seek is 
among the rarest of all discoveries. You might aid me to find it, 
and in so doing aid yourself to a knowledge far beyond all that 
your formal experiments can bestow." 

" Prove your words, and command my services," said I, smiling 
somewhat disdainfully. 

"You told me that you had examined into the alleged 
phenomena of animal magnetism, and proved some persons who 
pretend to the gift which the Scotojb call second sight to be 
bungling imposters. You were right. I have seen the clairvoy- 
ants who drive their trade in this town ; a common gipsy could 
beat them in their own calling. But your experience must have 
shown you that there are certain temperaments in which the gift of 
the Pythoness is stored, unknown to the possessor, undetected by 
the common observer ; but the signs of which should he as ap- 
parent to the modem physiologist as they were to the ancient 
priest." 

" 1 at least, as a physiologist, am ignorant of the signs — what 
are they ? " 

" I should despair of making you comprehend them by mere 
verbal description. I could guide your observation to distinguish 
them unerringly were living subjects before us. But not one in a 
million has the gift to an extent available for the purposes to which 
the wise would apply it. Many have imperfect glimpses ; few, few 
indeed, the unveiled, lucent sight. They who have but the imper- 
fect glimpses mislead and dupe the minds that consult them, be- 
cause, being sometimes marvelously right* they excite a credulous 
belief in their general accuracy ; and as they are but translators of 
dreams in their own brain, their assurances are no more to be 
trusted than are- the dreams of commonplace sleepers. But where 
the gift exists to perfection, he who knows how to direct and to 
profit by it should be able to discover all that he desires to know 
for the guidance and preservation of his own life, lie will be fore- 
warned of every danger, forearmed in the means by which danger 
is avoided. For the eye of the true Pythoness matter has no ob- 
struction, space no confines, time no measurement." 

" My dear Margrave, you may well say that creatures so gifted 
are rare; and for my part, I would as soon search for a unicorn 
as, to use your affected expression, for a Pythoness." 

" Nevertheless, whenever there come across the course of your 



A STRANG E STORi'. 97 

practice some young creature to whom all the evil of the world is 
as yet unknown, to whom the ordinary cares and duties of the 
world arc strange and unwelcome : who from the earliest dawn of 
reason has loved to sit apart and to muse ; before whose eves 
visions pass unsolicited ; who converses with those who are not 
dwellers on the earth, and beholds in the space landscapes which 
the earth does not reflect — " 

"Margrave, Margrave ! of whom do you speak ! " 

" Whose frame, though exquisitely sensitive, has still a health. 
and a soundness in which you recognize no disease; whose mind 
has a truthfulness that you know cannot deceive you, and a simple 
intelligence too clear to deceive itself; who is moved to a myslcri- 
ous degree by all the varying aspects of external nature — inno- 
cently joyous, or unaccountably sad; — when, 1 say, such n being 
comes across your experience, inform me; and the chances are 
that the true Pythoness is found." 

I had listened with vague terror, and with more than one ex- 
clamation of amazement, to descriptions which brought Lilian Ash- 
leigh before me ; and 1 now sat nude, bewildered, breathless, 
gazing upon Margrave, and rejoicing that at least Lilian he had 
never seen. 

He returned my own gaze steadily, searchingly, and then, break- 
ing into a slight laugh, resumed : 

" You call my word 'Pythoness' affected. I know of no other. 
My recollections of classic anecdote and history are confused and 
dim ; but somewhere I have read or heard that the priests of 
Delphi were accustomed to travel chiefly into Thrace or Thessaly 
in search of the virgins who might fitly administer their oracles, 
and that the oracles gradually ceased in repute as the priests he- 
came unable to discover the organization requisite in the priestesses, 
and supplied by craft and imposture, or by such imperfect frag- 
mentary developments as belong now to professional clairvoyants, 
the gifts which Nature failed to afford. Indeed, the demand was 
one that must have rapidly exhausted so limited a supply. The 
constant strain upon faculties so wearing to the vital functions in 
their relentless exercise, under the artful stimulants by which the 
priests heightened their power, was mortal, and no Pythoness ever 
retained her life more than three years from the time that her gift 
was elaborately trained and developed." 

" Pooh ! I know of no classical authority for the details you so 
confidently site. Perhaps some such legions may be found in the 
Alexandrian PlatonistB; but those mystics are no authority on 
such a subject. After all," I added, recovering from my first sur- 
prise or awe, "the Delphic oracles were proverbially ambiguous, 
ami their responses might be read either way; a proof thai the 
priests dictated the verses, though their arts on the unhappy 
priestess might throw her into real convulsions, and the real con- 
vulsions, not the false gift, might shorten her life. Enough of such 
.7 



98 A STRANGE STORY. 

idle subjects ! Yet no ! one question more. If you found your 
Pythoness, what then ? " 

" What then 1 Why, through her aid I might discover the pro- 
cess of an experiment which your practical Science would assist me 
to complete." 

" 'Tell me of what kind is your experiment ; and precisely be- 
cause such little science as I possess is exclusively practical, I may 
assist you without the help of the Pythoness." 

Margrave was silent for some minutes, passing his hand several 
times across his forehead, which was a frequent gesture of his, and 
then rising, he answered, in listless accents : 

" I cannot say more now, my brain is fatigued ; and you are not 
yet in the right mood to hear me. By the way, how close and re- 
served you are with me." 

"How so? " 

" You never told me that you were engaged to be married. You 
leave me, who thought to have won your friendship, to hear what 
concerns you so intimately from a comparative stranger." 

"Who told you?" 

" That woman with eyes that pry and lips that scheme, to whose 
house you took me." 

" Mrs. Poyntz ! Is it possible ?. When 1 " 

" This afternoon. I met her in the street — she stopped me, and 
after some unmeaning talk, asked ' if I had seen you lately ; if I 
did not find you very absent and distracted ; no wonder — you were 
in love. The young lady was away on a visit, and wooed by a 
dangerous rival.' " 

" Wooed by a dangerous rival ! " 

" Very rich, good looking, young. Do you fear him ? You turn 
pale." 

" I do not fear, except so far as he who loves truly, loves 
humbly, and fears not that another may be preferred, but that an- 
other may be worthier of preference than himself. But that Mrs. 
Poyntz should tell you all this does amaze me. Did she mention 
the name of the young lady ] " 

" Yes ; Lilian Ashleigh. Henceforth be more frank with me. 
Who knows 1 I may help you. Adieu ! " 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

When Margrave had gone, I glanced at the clock — not yet nine. 
I resolved to go at once to Mrs. Poyntz. It was not an evening 
on which she received, but doubtless she would see me. She owed 
me an explanation. How thus carelessly divulge a secret she 
had been enjoined to keep ? and this rival of whom I was ignorant ? 



A S'niANOE STORY. 99 

It Was no longer a matter of wonder that Margrave should have 
described Lilian's peculiar idiosyncrasies in his sketch of his 
fabulous Pythoness. Doubtless, Mrs. Poyntz had, with unpardon- 
able levity of indiscretion, revealed all of which she disapproved 
in my choice. But for what object ? Was this her boasted friend- 
ship for me I Was it consistent with the regard she professed for 
Mrs. Ashleigh and Lilian.' Occupied by these perplexed and 
indignant thoughts, 1 arrived at Mrs. Povntz's house, and was 
admitted to her presence. She was fortunately alone ; her daughter 
and "he Colonel had gone to some party on the Hill. 1 would 
not take the hand she held out to me on entrance; seated myself 
in stern displeasure, and proceeded at once to inquire it she had 
really betrayed to Mr. Margrave the secret of my engagement to 
Lilian. 

" Yes, Allen IVmvick ; I have this day told not only Mr. Mar- 
grave, but every person I met who is likely to tell it to some ono 
else, the secrel of your engagement to Lilian Ashleigh. I never 
promised to conceal it ; on the contrary, I wrote word to Anno 
Ashleigh that I would therein act as my own judgment counseled 
me. 1 think my words to you were that ' public gossip was sonic- 
times the best security for the fulfilment of private engagements.' " 

"Do you mean that Mrs. or Miss Ashleigh recoils from the 
engagement with me, and that I should meanly compel them to 
fulfil it by calling in the public to censure them — if — if — oh, 
madam, this is worldly artifice indeed ! " 

" Be good enough to listen to me quietly. I have never yet 
showed you the letter to Mrs. Ashleigh, written by Lady Haugh- 
ton, and delivered by Mr. Vigors. That letter I will now show 
to yon; hut before doing so I must enter into a preliminary 
explanation. Lady Haughton is one of those women who love 
power, and cannot obtain it except through wealth and station — by 
her own intellect never obtain it. When her husband died she 
was reduced from an income of twelve thousand a year to a joint- 
ure of twelve hundred, hut with the exclusive guardianship of a 
young sou, a minor, and adequate allowances for the charge, she 
continued, therefore, to preVide as mistress over the establishments 
in town and country; still had the administration i<( her son's 
Ith and rank. She stinted his education in order to maintain 
her ascendency over him. He became a brainless prodigal — 
spendthrift alike of health and fortune. Alarmed, she saw thai 
probably he would die young and a beggar; his only hope of re- 
form was in marriage. She reluctantly resolved to marry him to 
a penniless, well-born, sob-minded yonng lady whom she knew she 
could control : just before this marriage was to take place he was 
killed by a fall from his horse. The Haughton estate passed io 
his cousin, the luckiest young man alive; the same Ashleigh Sum- 
ner who had already succeeded, in default of male issue, to poor 
Gilbert Ashleigh's landed possessions. Over this young man Lady 



100 A STRAXGB STORY. 

Haughton could expect no influence. She -would be a stranger in 
his house. But she had a niece ! Mr. Vigors assured her the 
niece was beautiful. And if the niece could become Mrs. Ashleigh 
Sumner, then Lady Haughton would be a less unimportant No- 
body in the world, because she would still have her nearest relation 
in a Somebody at Haughton Park. Mr. Vigors had his own 
pompous reasons for approving an alliance which he might help to 
bring about. The first step towards that alliance was obviously 
to bring into reciprocal attractions the natural charms of the young 
lady and the acquired merits of the young gentleman. Mr. Vigors 
could easily induce his ward to pay a visit to Lady Haughton, and 
Lady Haughton had only to extend her invitations to her niece ; 
hence the letter to Mrs. Ashleigh, of which Mr. Vigors was the 
bearer, and hence my advice to you, of which you can now under- 
stand the motive. Since you thought Lilian Ashleigh the only 
woman you could love, and since I thought there were other 
women in the world who might do as well for Ashleigh Sumner, 
it seemed to me fair for all parties that Lilian should not go to 
Lady Haughton's in ignorance of the sentiments with which she 
had inspired you. A girl can seldom be sure that she loves until 
she is sure that she is loved. And now," added Mrs. Poyutz, 
rising and walking across the room to her bureau — " now I will 
show you Lady Haughton's invitation to Mrs. Ashleigh. Here 
it is ! " 

i ran my eye over the letter which she thrust into my hand, re- 
suming her knitwork while I read/ 

The letter was short, couched in conventional terms of hollow 
affection. The writer blamed herself for having so long neglected 
her brother's widow and child ; her heart had been wrapped up 
too much in the son she had lost ; that loss had made her turn to 
the ties of blood still left to her; she had heard much of Lilian 
from their common friend, Mr. Vigors ; she longed to embrace so 
charming a niece. Then followed the invitation and the postscript. 
The postscript ran thus, so far as I can remember : " Whatever 
my own grief at my irreparable bereavement, I am no egotist, I 
keep my sorrow to myself. You will fild some pleasant guests at 
my house, among others our joint connection, young Ashleigh 
Sumner." 

" Woman's postscripts are proverbial for their significance," 
said Mrs. Poyntz, when I had concluded the letter and laid it on 
the table ; " and if I did not at once show you this hypocritical 
effusion, it was simply because at the name of Ashleigh Sumner its 
object became transparent, not perhaps to poor Anne Ashleigh nor 
to innocent Lilian, but to my knowledge of the parties concerned, 
and to that shrewd intelligence which you derive partly from 
nature, partly from the insight into life winch a true physician 
cannot fail to acquire. And if I know anything of you, you would 
have romantically said, had you seen the letter at first, and under- 



A STRANGE STORY. 101 

stood its covert intention' ' Let me not shackle the choice of the 
woman I love, and to whom an alliance so coveted in the eyes of 
the world might, if she were left free, be proffered.' " 

" I should not have gathered from the postscript all that you 
see in it, but had its purport been so suggested to me, you are 
right, I should have so said. Well, and as Mr. Margrave tells me 
thai you informed him that I have a rival, I am now to conclude 
that the rival is Mr. Ashleigh Sumner ! " 

" Has not Mrs. Ashleigh or Lilian mentioned him in writing to 
you ? " 

" Yes, both ; Lilian very slightly ; Mrs. Ashleigh with some 
praise, as a young man of high character, and verv courteous to 
her." 

" Yet, though I asked you to come and tell mo who were the 
guests at Lady Ilaughton's you uever did so." 

" Pardon me ; but of the guests I thought nothing, and letters 
addressed to my heart seemed to me too sacred to talk about. 
And Ashleigh Sumner then courts Lilian ! How do you know V 

" I know everything that concerns me ; and here the explana- 
tion is simple. My aunt, Lady Delafield, is staying with Lady 
Haughton. Lady Delafield is one of the women of fashion who 
shine by their own light; Lady Haughton shines by borrowed 
light, and borrows every ray she can find." 

''And Lady Delafield writes you word — " 

" That Ashleigh Sumner is caught by Lilian's beauty." 

" And Lilian herself — " 

" Women like Lady Delafield do not readily believe that any 
girl would refuse Ashleigh Sumner ; considered in himself, he is 
steady and good-looking ; considered as owner of Kirby Hall and 
Haughton Park, he has, in The eyes of any sensible mother, the 
virtues ofCato, and the beauty of Antinous." 

I pressed my hand to my heart — close to my heart, lay a letter 
from Lilian — and there was no word in that letter which showed 
that her heart was gone from mine. I shook my head gently, and 
smiled in confiding triumph. • 

Mrs. Poyntz surveyed me with a bent brow and a compressed 
lip. 

" I understand your smile," she said, ironically. " Very likely 
Lilian may be quite untouched by this young man's admiration, 
but Anne Ashleigh may be dazzled by so brilliant a prospect for 
her daughter. And, in short, I thought it desirable to let your 
gement be publicly known throughout the town to-day ; that 
information will travel — it will reach Ashleigh Sumner through 
Mr. Vigors, or -others in this neighborhood, with whom I know 
that he corresponds. It will bring affairs to a crisis, and before it 
may be too bite. I think it well that Ashleigh Sumner should 
leave that house ; if he leaves it for good so much the better. And, 



102 • A STRANGE STORY. 

perhaps, the sooner Lilian returns to L the lighter your own 

heart will be." 
•" And for those reasons you have published the secret of — " 

-" Your engagement 1 Yes. Prepare to be congratulated wher- 
ever you go. And now, if you hear either from mother or daugh- 
ter, that Ashleigh Sumner has proposed, and been, let us say, re- 
fused, I do not doubt that in the pride of your heart you will come 
and tell me." 

" Rely upon it, I will ; but before I take my leave allow me to 
ask why you described to a young man like Mr. Margrave — whose 
wild and strange humors you have witnessed and not approved — 
any of those traits of character in Miss Ashleigh which distinguish 
her from other girls of her age 1" 

" I % You mistake. I said nothing to him of her character. I 
mentioned her name, and said she was beautiful, that was all." 

" Nay, you said that she was fond of musing, of solitude ; that 
in her fancies she believed in the reality of visions which might 
flit before her eyes as they flit before the eyes of all imaginative 
dreamers." 

" Not a word did I say to Mr. Margrave of such peculiarities 
in Lilian ; not a word more than what I have told you, on my 
honor ! " 

Still incredulous, but disguising my incredulity with that con- 
venient smile by which we accomplish so much of the polite dis- 
simulation indispensable to the decencies of civilized life, 1 took 
my departure, returned home, and wrote to Lilian. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Tub conversation with Mrs. Poyntz left my mind restles.i and 
disquieted. I had no doubt, indeed, of Lilian's truth ; but could I 
be sure that the attentions of a young man with advantages of 
fortune so brilliant, would not force on Jier thoughts the contrast 
of the humbler lot and the duller walk of life in which she had ac- 
cepted as companion a man removed from her romantic youth less 
by disparity of years than by gravity of pursuits 1 And would my 
suit now be as welcomed as it had been by a mother even so un- 
worldly as Mrs. Ashleigh 1 Why, too, should both mother and 
daughter have left me so unprepared to hear that I had a rival '.' 
Why not have implied some conso ing assurance that such rivalry 
need cause me no alarm. Lilian's letters, it is true, touched but 
little on any of the persons round her — they were filled with the 
outpourings of an ingenuous heart, colored by the glow of a golden 
fancy. They were written as if in the wide world we two stood 
apart, alone, consecrated from the crowd by the love that, in link- 



A STRANGE STORY. 103 

ing us together, liad hallowed each to each. But Mrs. Ashleigh's 
letters were more general and diffusive, detailed the habits of the 
household, sketched the guests, intimated continued fear of Lady 
Haiighton, but had said nothing more of Mr. Ashleigh Sumner 
than J bad repeated to Mrs. Poyntz. However, in my letter to 
Lilian 1 related the intelligence that had reached me, and im- 
patiently I awaited her reply. 

Three days after the interview with Mrs. Poyntz, and two days 
before the long-anticipated event of the mayor's ball, I was sum- 
moned to attend a nobleman who had lately been added to my list 
of patients, and whose residence was about twelve miles from 

L-j . The nearest way was through Sir Philip Derval's park. 

1 went on horseback, and proposed to. stop on the way to impure 
after the steward, whom I had seen but once since his tit. and t bat- 
was two days after it. when be called himself at my bouse to thank 
me for my attendance, and to declare that he was quite recovered. 

As I rode somewhat fast through Sir P. Derval's park, I came, 
however, upon the steward, just in front of the house. 1 reined in 
my horse and accosted him. lie looked very cheerful. 

" Sir," said he, in a whisper, " I have heard from Sir Philip; his 
letter is dated since — since — my good woman told you what I 
'saw ; — well, since then. So that it must have been all a delusion 
of mine, as yon told her. And yet, well — well — we will not talk 
of it, doctor. But 1 hope you have kept the secret. Sir Philip 
would not like to bear of it if he comes back." 

" Your secret is quite safe wi h me. But is Sir Philip likely to 
come back ? " 

" I hope so, doctor. His letter is dated Paris, and that's nearer 
home than he has been for many years ; and — but bless me — 
some one is coming out of the bouse 1 a young gentleman ! Who 
can it be / " 

I looked, and to my surprise I saw Margrave descending the 
stately stairs that led from the front door. The steward turned 
toward him, and I mechanically followed, for I was curious to 
know what bad brought Margrave to the bouse of the long-absent 
traveler. 

It was easily explained/ Mr. Margrave had heard at L- 



much of the pictures and internal decorations of the mansion. He 
had by dint of coaxing (be said, with his enchanting laugh), per- 
suaded the old housekeeper to show him the rooms. 

" It is against Sir Philip's positive orders to show the house to 
any stranger, sir ; and the housekeeper has done very wrong," 
said the steward. 

" Pray don't scold her. I dare say Sir Philip would not have 
refused me a permission he might not give to every idle sight-seer. 
Fellow-travelers bave a freemasonry with each other ; and I have 
been much in the same far countries as himself. I heard of him 



104 A STRANGE STORY. 

there, and could tell you more about him, I dare say, than you 
know yourself." 

" You, sir ! pray do then." 

" The next time I come," said Margrave, gaily ; and with a nod 
to me he glided off through the trees of the neighboring grove, 
along the winding foot-path that led to the lodge. 

"A very cool gentleman," muttered the steward; "but what 
pleasant ways he bas ! You seem to know him, sir. Who is he. — 
may I ask 1" 

" Mr. Margrave. A visitor at L , and he has been a great 

traveler, as he says ; perhaps he met Sir Philip abroad." 

" I must go and hear what he said to Mrs. Gates ; excuse jne, 
sir, but I am so anxious about Sir Philip." 

" If it be not too great a favor, may I be allowed the same 
privilege granted to Mr. Margrave? To judge by the outside of 
the house, the inside must be worth seeing ; still, if it be against 
Sir Philip's positive orders — " 

" His orders were not to let the Court become a show-house — 
to admit none without my consent; but I should be ungrateful 
indeed, doctor, if I refused that consent to you." 

I tied my horse to the rusty gate of the terrace walk, and fol- 
lowed the steward up the broad stairs of the terrace. The great 
doors were unlocked. We entered a lofty hall with a domed ceil- 
ing ; at the back of the hall the grand staircase ascended by a 
double flight. The design was undoubtedly Vanbrugh's, an archi- 
tect who, beyond all others, sought the effect of grandeur less in 
space than in proportion. But Vanbrugh's designs need the relief of 
costume and movement, and the forms of a more pompous genera- 
tion, in the bravery of velvets and laces, glancing amid those gilded 
columns, or descending with stately tread those broad palatial 
stairs. His halls and chambers are so made for festival and throng, 
that they become like deserted theatres, inexpressibly desolate, as 
we miss the glitter of the lamps and the movement of the actors. 

The housekeeper had now appeared ; a quiet, timid old woman. 
She excused herself for admitting Margrave, not very intelligibly. 
It was plain to see that she had, in truth, been unable to resist 
what the steward termed his "pleasant ways.'' 

As if to escape from a scolding, she talked volubly all the time, 
bustling nervously through the rooms, along which I followed her 
guidance with a hushed footstep. The principal apartments were 
on the ground-floor, or rather a floor raised some ten or fifteen feet 
above the ground ; they had not been modernized since the dare 
in which they were built. Hangings of faded silk ; tables of rare 
marble, and mouldered guilding; comfortless chairs at drill against 
the walls ; pictures, of which connoisseurs alone could estimate 
the value, darkened by dust or blistered by sun and damp, made 
a general character of discomfort. On not one room, on not one 
nook, still lingered some old smile of Home. 



A STKAXGE STORY. 105 

Meanwhile I gathered from the housekeeper's rambling an- 
swers to questions put to lier by the steward, as I moved on, 
glancing at the pictures, thai Margrave's visit that day was not his 
first, lie had been over the house twice before : his ostensible 
excuse that he was an amateur in pictures (though as I have before 
observed! for that department of art he had no taste) ; hut each 
time he had talked much of Sir Philip, lie said Ilia . though not 
personally known to him. be had resided in the same towns abroad, 
and bad friends equally intimate with Sir Philip; hut when the 
steward inquired if the visitor had given any information as to the 
absentee, it became very clear that Margrave bad been rather 
asking questions than volunteering intelligence. < 

We had now come to the end of the state apartments, the last 
of which was a library. "And," said the old woman, " I don't 
wonder the gentleman knew Sir Philip, for he seemed a scholar, 
and looked very hard over the hooks, especially those old ones by 
the fire-place, which Sir Philip, Heaven bless him, was always 
pouring over." 

Mechanically I turned to the Shelves by the fire-place, and ex- 
amined the volumes ranged in tflat department. I found they 
contained the works of those writers whom we may class together 
under the title of mystics — Porphyry and P;ofinus : Swedenborg 
and Behmen; Sandivogius, Van Helmont, Paracelsus, Cardan. 
Works, too, were tbefe, by writers less renowned, on astrology, 
geomancy, chiromancy, etc. 1 began to understand among \ 
class of authors Margrave had picked up the strange notions with 
which he was apt to interpolate the doctrines of practical phil 
pby. 

'•I suppose this library was Sir Philip's usual sitting-room .'" 
said I. 

"No, sir ; he seldom sat here. This was his study :*' and the 
old woman opened a small door, masked by false book hacks. I 
followed berinto a roam of moderate size, and evidently of much 
earlier date than the rest of the house. " It is the only room of an 
older mansion," said the steward, in answer to my remarks. "I 
have heard it was loft standing on account of the chimney-piece. 
But there is a Latin inscription which will tel! you all about it. I 
don't know Latin myself," said the steward. 

The chimney-piece reached to the ceiling. The frieze of the 
lower part rested on rude stone caryatides ; in the upper part were 
oak panels very curiously carved in the geometrical designs fa- 
vored by the taste prevalent in the reigns of Elizabeth and James, 
hut different from any I had ever seen in drawings of old houses. 
And 1 was not quite unlearned in such matters, for my poor 
father was a passionate antiquarian in all that relates to medieval 
art. The design in the oak panels was composed of triangles in- 
terlaced with varied ingenuity, and inclosed in circular hands in- 
Boribed with the sians of the Zodiac. 



106 A STRANGE STORY. 

On the stone frieze supported by the caryatide, immediately un- 
der the wood-work, was inserted a metal plate, on which was writ- 
ten, in Latin, a few lines to the effect that, "in this room Simon 
Forman, the seeker of hidden truth, taking refuge from unjust per- 
secution, made those discoveries in nature which he committed, 
for the benefit of a wiser age, to the charge of his protector and 
patron, the worshipful Sir Miles Derval, knight." 

Forman ! The name was not quite unfamiliar to me ; but it 
was not without an effort that my memory enabled me to assign it 
to one of the most notorious of those astrologers or soothsasers 
whom the superstition of an earlier age alternately persecuted and 
honored. 

The general character of the room was more cheerfuld than the 
statelier chambers I had hitherto passed through, for it had still 
the look of habitation. The arm-chair by the tire-placo ; the knee- 
hole writing table beside it ; the sofa near the recess of a large 
bay-window, with book-prop and candlestick screwed to its back; 
maps, coiled in their cylinders, ranged under the cornice; low 
strong safes skirting two sides of the room, and apparently intend- 
ed to hold papers and title deeds; seals carefully affixed to their 
jealous locks. Placed on the top of these old-fashioned receptacles 
were articles familiar to modern use; a fowling-piece here; fish- 
ing rods there; two or three simple flower vases ; a pile of music- 
books ; a box of crayons. All in this room seemed to speak of 
residence and ownership — of the idiosyncrasies of a single man, 
it is true, but of a man of one's own time — a country gentleman 
of plain habits but not uncultivated tastes. 

I moved to the window ; it opened by a sash upon a large 
balcony, within which a wooden stair wound to a little garden, 
not visible in front of the house, surrounded by a thick grove of 
evergreens, through which one broad vista was cut; and that vis- 
ta was closed by a view of the mausoleum. 

I stepped out into the garden — a patch of sward with a foun- 
tain in the centre — and parterres, now more filled with weeds 
than flowers. At the left corner, was a tall wooden summer- 
house or pavilion; its door wide open. "Oh, thatl? where Sir 
Philip used to study many a long summer's night," said the 
steward. 

" What ! in that damp pavilion ? " 

" It was a pretty place enough then, sir ; but it is very old. 
They say as old as the room you have just left." 

" Indeed, I must look at it then." The walls of this summer- 
house had once been painted in the arabesques of the llennaissance 
period ; but the figures now were scarcely traceable. The wood- 
work had started in some places, and the sunbeams stole through 
the chinks and played on the floor, which was formed from old tiles 
quaintly tesselated and in triangular patterns, similar to those I had 



A STRANGE STORY. 107 

remarked in the chimney-piece. The room in the pavilion was 
large, furnished with old worm-eaten tables and settles. 

" It was not only here that Sir Philip studied, but sometimes in 
the room above," said the steward. 

"How do you gel to the room above ? Oh, I see; a staircase 
in the au.ule." 

I ascended the stairs with some caution, for they were crooked 
and decayed ; and on entering the room above, comprehended, at 
once why Sir Philip had favored it. 

The cornice of the ceiling rested on pilasters, within which 
compartments were formed into open, unclosed arches, surrounded 
by a railed balcony. Through these arches, on three sides of the 
room, the eye commanded a magnificenl extent of prospect. ( )n the 
fourth side the view was hounded by the mausoleum. In this room 
was a large telescope, and on stepping into the balcony, 1 saw that 
a winding stair mounted thence to a platform on the top of the 
pavilion — perhaps once used as an observatory by Fonnan 
himself. 

"The gentleman who was here to-day was very much pleased 
with this look-out, sir," said the housekeeper. 

"Who could not bel I suppose Sir Philip has a taste for 
astronomy." 

" I dare say, sir." said the steward, looking grave ; " he likes 
most out-of-the-way things." 

The position of the sun now warned me that my time pre 
and that I should have to ride fast to reach my new patient at the 
hour appointed. 1 therefore hastened back to my horse, and 
spurred on, wondering whether in that chain of association which 
so subtly links our pursuits in manhood to our impressions in child- 
hood, it was the Latin inscription on the chimney-piece that had 
originally biased Sir Philip Dcrval's literary taste toward the 
mystic jargon of the books at which I had contemptuously 
glanced. 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

I Din not see Margrave the following day. but the next morning, 
a little after sunrise, he walked into my study, according to his 
ordinary habit. 

"So you know something about Sir Philip Derval ?" said I. 
" What sort of a man is he ! " 

•• Hateful! " cried Margrave; and then checking himself, hurst 
out into his merry laugh. "Just like my exaggerations! I am 
not acquainted with anything to his prejudice. 1 came across his 



108 A STKANGE STORY. 

Track once or twice in the East. Travelers are always apt to be 
jealous of each other." 

" You are a strange compound of cynicism and credulity. But I 
should have fancied that you and Sir Philip would have been con- 
genial spirits, when I found among his favorite books Vau Helmont 
and Paracelsus. Perhaps you, too, study Swedenborg; or, worse, 
still, Ptolemy and Lilly % " 

" Astrologers 1 No ! They deal with the future ! I live for the 
day, only I wish the day never had a morrow ! " 

" Have you not, then, that vagne desire for the something be- 
yond; that not unhappy, but grand discontent with the limits of 
the immediate Present, from which Man takes his passion for im- 
provement and progress, and from which some sentimental philoso- 
phers have deduced an argument in favor of his destined im- 
mortality % " 

"•Eh !" said Margrave with as vacant a si are as that of a 
peasant whom one has addressed in Hebrew. " What farrago of 
words is/ this 1 I do not comprehend you." 

"With your natural abilities," I asked with interest, " do you 
never feel a desire for fame ? " 

" Fame ! Certainly not. 1 cannot even understand it ! " 

" Well, then, would you have no pleasure in the thought that 
you had rendered a service to humanity 'I " 

Margrave looked bewildered. After a moment's pause he took 
from the table a piece of bread that chanced to be there, opened 
the window, and threw the crumbs into the lane. The sparrows 
gathered round the crumbs. 

"Now," said Margrave, "the sparrows come to that dull pave- 
ment for the bread that recruits their lives in this world; do you 
believe that one sparrow would be silly enough to fly to a house- 
top for the sake of some benefit to other sparrows, or -to be 
chirrupped about after he was dead \ I care for science as the 
sparrow cares for bread; it may help me to something good for 
my own life, and as for fame and humanity, I care for them as a 
sparrow cares for the general interest and posthumous approbation 
of sparrows ! " 

" Margrave ! there is one thing in you that perplexes me more 
than all else — human puzzle as you are — in your many eccentrici- 
Mess and self-contradictions." 

" What is that one thing in me most perplexing ? " 

" This; that in your enjoyment of nature you have all the fresh- 
ness of a child, but when you speak of man and his objects in the 
world, you talk in the vein of some worn-out and hoary cynic. At 
such times, were I td close my eyes, I should say to myself, 'What 
weary old man is venting his spleen against the ambition which 
has failed, and the love which has forsaken him .' ' Outwardly the 
very personation of youth, and revelling like a butterfly in the 
warmth of the sun and the tints of the herbage, why have you 



A STRANGE STORY. 109 

none of the golden passions of the young? their bright dreams, of 
some impossible love — their sublime enthusiasm for some unat- 
tainable glory '. The sentiment you have just clothed in your 
parable of the sparrows is too mean and too gloomy to be genuine 
at your age. Misanthropy is among the dismal fallacies of gray- 
beards. No man. till man's energies leave him, can divorce him- 
self from the bonds of our social kind." 

" Our kind — your kind, possibly! But I — " He swept his 
hand over his brow, and resumed, in strange, absent) and wistful 
accents; " 1 wonder what it is that is wanting here, and of which 
at moments 1 have a dim reminiscence." Again he panned, and 
gazing on me, said, with more appearance of friendly interest than 
1 had ever before remarked on his countenance. " You are nut 
Looking well. ■ Despite your great physical strength, you suller 
like your own sickly patients." 

"True! 1 suffer ai this moment, bul not from bodily pain," 

"You have some cause of mental disquietude \ " 

" Whb in this world has not ! " 

" I never have." 

"Because you own you have never loved ; and certainly you 
never seem to v:\vt' for any one but yourself; and in yourself you 
find an unbroken, sunny holiday — high spirits, youth, health, 
beauty, wealth. Happy boy ! " 

At that moment my heart was heavy within me. 

Margrave resumed : 

"Among the secrets which your knowledge places at the com- 
mand of your art. what would you give for one which would enable 
you to defy and deride a rival where you place your affections, 
which could lock lo jourself and imperiously control the will of 
the being whom you desire to fascinate, by an influence para- 
mount, transcendent I " 

"Love has that secret." said 1, " and love alone." 

••A power stronger than love can suspend, can change, love 
itself. But if love lie the object or dream of your life, love is 
the rosy associate of youth and beauty. Beauty soon fades, youth 
soon departs. What if in nature were the means by which beauty 
and youth can be fixed into blooming duration — means that can 
arrest the course, nay, repair the effects of time on the elements 
that make up the human frame!" 

" Silly boy ! Have the Rosicruclans bequeathed to you a pre- 
scription for the elixir of life? " 

"If I had the prescription 1 should not ask your aid to dis- 
oover its ingredient 

■.lid is i; on the hope of that notable discovery you 1 
studied chemistry, electricity, and magnetism'/ Again I say, 
si!i\ boy ! " 

Margrave did not heed my reply. His fate was overcast, 

gloomy, troubled. 



110 A STRANGE STJDRY. 

" That the vital principle is a gas," said he, abruptly, " I am 
fully convinced. Can that gas be the one which combines caloric 
With oxygen 1 " 

" Phosoxygen ? Sir Humphrey Davy demonstrates that gas 
not to be, as "Lavoisier supposed, caloric, but light, combined with' 
oxygen, and he suggests, not indeed that it is the vital principle 
itself, but the pabulum of life to organic beings."* 

"Does he?" said Margrave, his face clearing up. " Possibly, 
possibly, then, here we approach the great secret of secrets. Look 
you, Allen Fenwick, I promise to secure to you unfailing security 
from all the jealous fears that now torture your heart ; if you 
care for that fame which to me is not worth the scent of a flower, 
the balm of a breeze. I will impart to you a knowledge which, 
in the hands of ambition, would dwarf into commonplace the 
boasted wonders of recognized science. I will do all this, if, in 
return, but for one month you will give yourself up to my gui- 
dance in whatever experiments 1 ask, no matter how wild they 
may seem to you." 

" My dear Margrave, I reject your bribes as I would reject the 
moon and the stars which a child might offer to me in exchange 
for a toy. But I may give the child its toy ibr nothing, and I 
may test your experiments for nothing some day when I have 
leisure." 

I did not hear Margrave's answer, for at that moment my ser- 
vant entered with letters. Lilian's hand ! Tremblingly, breath- 
lessly, I broke the seal. Such a loving, bright, happy letter ; SO 
sweet in its gentle chiding of ray wrongful fears. It was implied 
rather than said that Ashleigh Sumner bad proposed, and been 
refused. He bad now left the house. Lilian and her mother were 
coming back; in a few days we should meet. In this letter were 
enclosed a few lines from Mrs. Ashleigh. She was more explicit 
as to my rival than Lilian had been. If no allusion to his atten- 
tions had been made to me before, it was from delicate considera- 
tion for myself. Mrs. Ashleigh said that " the young man had 

heard from L of our engagement, and — disbelieved it ; " but, 

as Mrs. Poyntz had so shrewdly predicted, hurried at once to ihe 
avowal of his own attachment, and the offer of his own hand. On 
Lilian's refusal his pride had been deeply mortified. He had gone 
away manifestly in more anger than sorrow. " Lady Delarield, 
dear Margaret Poyntz's aunt, had been most kind in trying to 
soothe Lady Haughton's disappointment, which was rudely ex- 
pressed — so rudely," added Mrs. Ashleigh, " that it gives us an 
excuse to leave sooner than had been proposed — which I am very 
glad of. Lady Delarield feels much for Mr. Sumner; has invited 
him to visit her at a place she has near Worthing ; she leaves to- 
morrow in order to receive him ; promises To reconcile him to our 
rejection, which, as he was my poor Gilbert's heir, and was very 

* See Sir Humphrey Davy cm Heat, Light, and the (Jouibiuatious of Light. 



A STRANGE STORY. Ill 

friendly at first, -would be a great relief to my mind. Lilian is 
well, and so happy at the thoughts of comin|| back." 

When I lifted my eyes from these letters I was as a new man. 

and the earth seemed a new earth. 1 felt as if I had realized 
Margray'e'9 idle dreams — as if youth could never fade, love could 
never grow eold. 

"You care for no secrets of mine at this moment," said Mar- 
grave, abruptly. 

" Secrets," I murmured ; "none now are worth knowing. I am 
loved — I am loved! " 

"I trifle my time," said Margrave' ; and as my eyes met his, 1 
saw there a look 1 had never seen in those eyes before — sinister, 
wrathful, menacing, lie turned away, went out through the sash 
door of the study; and as he passed toward the fields under the 
luxuriant chestnut-trees, I heard his musical barbaric chant — the 
son- by which the serpent-charmer charms the serpent ; — sweet, 
so sweet — the very birds on the houghs hushed their carol as if to 
listen. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

I CALLED that day on Mrs. Poyntz, and communicated to her 
the prospect of the glad news 1 had received. 

She was still at work on the everlasting knitting, her firm lingers 
linking mesh into mesh as she listened; and when 1 had done, she 
laid her skein deliberately down, and said, in her favorite charac- 
teristic formula, 

"So at lasi !— that is settled!" 

She rose and paced the room as men are apt to do in reflection — 
women rarely need such movement to aid their thoughts — her eyes 
were fixed on the floor, and one hand was lightly pressed on the 
palm of the other, the gesture of a musing reasoner who is ap- 
proaching the close of a difficult calculation. 

At length she paused, fronting me, and said, dryly, 

" Accept my congratulations — life smiles on you now — guard 
that smile, and When we meet next may we be even tinner friends 
than we are now ! " 

" When we meet next — that will be to-night — you surely go to 
the mayor's great ball. All the Hill descends to Low Town to- 
night." 

'•No; we are obliged to leave L this afternoon — in less 

than two hours we shall be gone — a family engagement. We may 
be weeks away ; you will excuse me, then, if I take leave of you 
so unceremonipusly. Stay; a motherly word of caution. That 
friend of yours, Mr. Margrave. Moderate your intimacy with 



112 A STRANGE STORY. 

him, and especially after you are married. There is in that 
stranger, of whom sofirrle is known, a something: which I cannot 
comprehend— a something that captivates, and yet revolts. I find 
him disturbing my thoughts, perplexing my conjectures, haunting 
my fancies — I, plain woman of the world ! Lilian is imagina- 
tive: beware of her imagination, even when sure of her heart. 

Beware of Margrave. The sooner he quits L , the better, 

believe me, for your peace of mind. Adieu, I must prepare for 
our journey." 

" That woman," muttered I, on quitting her house. " seems to 
have some strange spite against my poor Lilian, ever seeking to 
rouse my own distrust of that exquisite nature which has just 
given me such proof of its truth. And yet — and yet — is that 
woman so wrong here 1 True! Margrave with his wild notions, 
his strange beauty ! — true — true — he might dangerously encour- 
age that turn for the mystic and visionary which distrtfeses me in 
Lilian. Lilian should not know him. How induce him to leave 

L ? Ah — those experiments on which he asks my assistance! 

I might commence them when he comes again, and then invent 
some reason to send him for completer tests to the famous 
chemists of Paris or Berlin." 



CHAPTER XXXI. . 

It is the night of the mayor's ball ! The guests are assembling 
fast; county families twelve miles round have been invited, as 
well as the principal families of the town. All, before pro ceding 
to the room set. apart for the dance, moved in procession through, 
the museum — homage to science before pleasure ! 

The building was brilliantly lighted, and the effect was striking, 
perhaps because singular and grotesque. There, amidst stands 
of flowers and evergreens, lit up with colored lamps, were grouped 
the dead representatives of races all inferior — some deadly — to 
man. The fancy* of the ladies had been permitted to decorate 
and arrange these types of the animal world. The, tiger glared 
with glass eyes from amidst artificial reeds and herbage, as from 
his native jungle; the grizzly white bear peered from a mimic 
iceberg. There, in front, stood the sage elephant, facing a hideous 
hippopotamus ; while an anaconda twined its long spire round the 
stem of some tropical tree in zinc. In glass cases, brought into 
full light by festooned lamps, were dreaded specimens of the reptile 
race — scorpion and vampire, and cobra capella, with insects of 
gorgeous hues, not a few of them with venomed stings. 

But the chief boast of the collection was in the varieties of the 
genus simia — baboons and apes, chimpanzees, with their human 
i 



A .STRANGE STORY. 113 

/ 

visage, mockeries of man, from tlie dwarf monkey* perched on 
boughs lopped from the mayor's shrubberies, to the formidable 
orang outang leaning on his huge club. 

Everyone expressed to the mayor delight, and to each other 
antipathy, for this, uriwonted and somewhal gBastiy, though in- 
structive addition to the revels of a ball-room. 

Margrave, of* course, was there, and seemingly quite at home, 
gliding from group to group ofgayly-dressed ladies, and bril iant 
with a childish eagerness to play off the showman. Many of these 
grim fellow-creatures he declared he had seen, played, or fought 
with. He had something Irne or false to say ahont each. In his 
high spirits he contrived to make the tiger move, and imitated the 
hiss of the terrible anaconda. All that he did had its grace, its 
charm ; and the buzz of admiration and the flatten! > of 

ladies' eyes followed him wherever he moved. 

However, there was a general feeing of relief when, the mayor 
led the way from the museum into ihe hall-room. In provincial 
panics guests arrive pretty much within the same hour, and so 
feW who had once paid their respects to the apes and serpents, the 
hippopotamus and the tiger, were disposed to repeal the visit-, 
thai long before eleven o'clock the museum was as free from ihe 
intrusion of human life as the wilderness in which its dead occu- 
s had been bom. 

1 had gone my round through Ihe rooms, and, little disposed to 
he social, had crept into the retreat of a window-niche, pleased to 
think myself screened hy its draperies — not ihat I was melan- 
choly, far from it — I'm- Ihe letter I had received that morning from 
Lilian had raised my whole being into a sovereignty of happiness 
beyond the reach of the young pleasure-hunters whose voices 
laughter blended with that vulgar music. 

To read her letter again I h d stolen to my nook — and BOW, 
sure I ha! none saw me kiss it. I replaced it in my bosom. I looked 
through the parted curtain : !l e room was comparatively empty: 
hut there, through ihe open folding doors, 1 saw the gay crowd 
gathered round the dancers; and there again, at right angles, a 
vista along the corridor afforded a glimpse of Ihe great elephant 
in the deserted museum. 

Presently I heard, close heside me. my host's voice. 

" Here's a cool corner, a pleasant sofa, you can have it alf to 
yourself; what an honor to receive you under my roof, and on 
this interesting occasion ! Yes. as you say. great changes are here 
since you left us. Society is much improved. I must look about 
and find some persons to introduce to you. Clever! oh, J know 
your tastes. We have a wonderful man — a new doctor. Carries 
all before him — a very high character, too — good old family — 
greatly looked up to, even apart from his profession. Dogmatic a 
little — a Sir Oracle — 'Lets no dog bark;' you remember the quo- 
3 



114 A STRANGE STORY. 

tation— Shakspeare. Where on earth is he ? My dear Sir Philip, 
I am sure you wou'd enjoy his conversation." 

Sir Philip ! Could it. be Sir Philip Derval to whom the mayor 
Was giving a flattering, yet scarcely propitiatory description of 
myself? Curiosity, combined with a sense of propriety, in not 
keeping myself an unsuspected listener : I emerged from the 
curtain, hul silently, and reached the centre of tne room before 
the mayor perceived me. He then came up to me eagerly, linked 
Ids arm in mine, and leading me to a gentleman seated on a sofa 
close by the window I had quitted, said : 

" Doctor, I must present you to Sir Philip Derval, just return- 
ed to England, and not six hours in L . If you would like to 

see the museum again, Sir Philip, the doctor, I'm sure, will ac- 
company you." 

" No, I thank you ; it is painful to me at present to see, even 
under your roof, the collection which my poor dear friend, Dr. 
Lloyd, was so proudly beginning to form when I left these parts." 

'• Ay, Sir Philip — Dr. Lloyd was a worthy man in his way, but 
sadly duped in his latter years : took tu mesmerism, only think. 
But our young doctor here showed him up, I can tell you." • 

Sir Philip, wins had acknowledged my lirst introduction to his 
acquaintance by the quiel courtesy with which a we 1-bred man 
goes through a ceremony which custom enables him to endure 
with equal ease and indifference, now evinced by a slight cha 
of manner how little the mayor's reference to my dispute with 
Dr. Lloyd advanced me in his good opinion. He turned away 
with a bow more formal than his iirst one. and said, calmly, 

" I regret to hear that a man so simple-minded and so sensitive 
as Dr. Lloyd should have provoked an encounter in which I can 
well conceive him to have been worsted. With your leave, Mr. 
Mayor. I will look into your ball-room. I may perhaps find there 
some old acquaintances.." 

He walked toward tiie dancers, and the mayor, linking his arm 
in mine, followed close behind, saying, in his loud, hearty tones, 

"Come along, you too. Dr. Fenwick, my girls are here ; you 
have not spoken to them yet." 

Sir Philip who was then half-way across the room, turned 
round abruptly, and looking me full in the face, said, 

" Fenwick, is your name Fenwick ? — Allen Fenwick ? " 

" That is my name, Sir Philip." 

" Then permit me to shake you by the hand ; you are no 
stranger, and no mere acquaintance to me. Mr. Mayor, we will 
look into your ball-room later ; do not let us keep you now from 
your other guests." 

The mayor, not in the least offended by being thus summarily 
dismissed, smiled, walked on, and was soon lost among the crowd. 

Sir Philip, still retaining my baud, reseated himself on the 
sofa, and I took my place by his side. The room was still de- 



A STRANGE JTI'ORY. Ii5 

scried : row and then a straggler from the ball-ro»m looked in for 
amomenj., and then sauntered back to the centra place of attrac- 

rion. • 

"I am trying to guess," said I, "bow my name should be 

known to you. Possibly you may. in some visit to the ] akes, 
have known my father?" 

"No; I know none of your nanii* but .yourself — if, indeed, as 
iVloubt not, you are the Allen Fenwiek to whom I owe no small 
obligation. You were a medical student at Edinburgh in the 
year * * * I" 

"Yes." 

"So ! At that time there was also at Edinburgh a 3 oang man, 
named Richard Strahan. tie lodged in a fourth flat in the old 
town." 

" 1 remember him very well." 

"And yon remember, also, that a fire broke out at night in the 
house in which he lodged; that when it was discovered there 
seemed no hope of saving him. The flames wrapped the lower 
part of the house; the staircase had given way. A boy, scarcely 
so old as himself, was the only human being in the crowd who 
dared to scale the ladder, thai even then scarcely reached the 
windows from which the smoke rolled in volumes; that hoy pene- 
trated into the room — found I he inmate almost insensible — rallied, 
supported, dragged him to the window — got him on the ladder — 
saved his life then-»-and his life later, by nursing with a woman's 
tenderness, through the fever caused by terror and excitement, 
the fellow creature he had rescued by a man's daring. The name 
of that gallant student was Allen Fenwiek, and Richard Strahan 
is my nearest living relation. Are we friends now ?" 

i answered confusedly. 1 had almost forgotten the circum- 
stance referred to- Richard Strahan had not been one of my 
moie intimate companions, and 1 had never seen nor heard of him 
since leaving eollege- 1 inquired what had become of him. 

"lie is a, the Scotch bar," said Sir Philip, "and of course 
without practice. I understand that be has fair average abilities, 
but no application. If ] am rightly informed he is, however, a 
thoroughly honorable, upright man, ami of an affectionate and 
grateful disposition." 

" I can answer for all you have said in his praise. lie had the 
qualities you name too deeply rooted in youth to have lost them 
now." 

Sir Philip remained for some moments in a musing silence. — 
And I took advantage of that silence to examine him with more 
minute attention than 1 bail done before, much as the first sight 
of 1 im had struck" me. 

lie was somewhat below the goommon height So delicately 
formed that you might ca 1 him rati er-fragile than slight. But in 
his carriage and air there was a remarkable dignity. His counte- 



1]6 A STRANGE STORY. 

nance was at direct variance with his figure. For as delicacy was 
the attribute of the last, so power was fcably the character- 

istic of the first, He looked full the age tin' steward had ascribed 
tebina — about forty-eight ; at a superficial glance, more ; for his 
hair was prematurely white — not gray, but white as snow. But 
his eyebrows were still jet black, and his eyes, equally dark, were 
serenely bright, His fqrehesd was .magnificent ; lofty and spa-. 
cious, and with only one slight wrinkle between the brows. IHs 
complexion was sunburned, shewing no sign of weak health. The 
outline of his lips was that which I have often remarked in men 
accustomed to great dangers, and contracting in such dangers the 
habit of self-reliance ; firm and quiet, compressed without an 
effort. And the power of this very noble countenance was not 
intimidating, not aggressive ; it was mild — it was benignant, A 
man oppressed by some formidable tyranny, ami despairing to find 
a protector, would, on seeing that face, have said, " Here is one 
who can protect me, and who will ! " 

Sir Philip was the first to break the silence. 

" I bftve sa many relations scattered over England that fortu- 
nately not one of them can venture to calculate on my property if 
1 die childless, and therefore not one of them can feel himself in- 
jured when a few weeks hence he shall read in the newspapers that 
Sir Philip Derval is married. But for Richard Straban, at least, 
■h I never saw him, I must do something befi news- 

papers make that announcement. His sister was w; mt." 

" Your neighbors, Sir Philip, will rejoice at your m ince, 

I -presume, it may induce you to settle among them at Derval 
Court." 

"At Derval Court i No! 1 shall not settle there." Again he 
paused a moment, or so, and then went on. "I have long lived a 
wandering life, and in it learned much iiiat the wisdom of cities 
it teach. I return to my native land wiih a profound convic- 
ii,,n ihat the haiq iest life is the life most in common with all. I 
have gone my way to do what I deemed good, ami to 

avert or mitigate what appeared to me evil. I pause ind ask 

myself, whether the most virtuous existence, be not that in which 
virtue "flows spontaneously from the springs of quiet, everyday ac- 
tion ; when a man does good without restlessly seeking it, does good 
unconsciously, simply because he is good and he lives? Better, 
perhaps, for me if I had thought so long ago ! And now I come 
bad; to England with the intention of marrying, late in life though 
it be, and with such hopes of happiness as any matter-of-fact man 
may form. But my home will not be at Derval e'ourt. I shall 
reside either in London or its immediate neighborhood, and seek to 
gather round me minds by which I can correct, if J cannot confide, 
the knowledge I myself have acquired." 

"Nay, if, as I have accidentally heard, you are fond of scientific 
pursuits, I cannot wonder that after so long an absence from Eng- 



A STRANGE STORY. 117 

land, you should foci interest in learning what new disci ivories 
have been made, wind new ideas are, unfolding the germs of dis- 
coveries yet to be. Bui pardon me if. in answer to your coil 
ing remark, I venture to say that no man can hope to correct any 
error in his own knowledge, unless he lias the courage to confide 
. the error to those who can correct. La Place has satd, ' Tout ae 
> ticnt thins hi c.'/aine immense des verities ; ' and the mistake we 
make in some science we have specially cultivated is often only to 
he seen hy the light dfa se] arate science as specially cultivated by 
another. Thus, in the investigation of troth, frank exposition to 
congenial minds is essential to the earnest seel 

"I am pleased with what* you say," said Sir Philip, "and 1 
shall he still more pleased to find in you the very confident I re- 
quire. But what was your controversy with my old friend Dr. 
Lloyd? Do I understand our host rightly, thai it related to what 
in Europe has of late days obtained the name of mesmerism? " 

I had conceived a strong desire to conciliate the good opinion of 
a man who had treated me with so singular and so familiar a kind- 
ness, and it was sincerely that T expressed my regrel at the acerbity 
With which I had assailed Dr. Lloyd ; hut on his theories and pre- 
tensions I could not disguise my contempt. 1 enlarged an the ex- 
travagant fallacies involved in a fabulous " clairvoyance," which 
always failed when plain test by sober-minded examiners. 

1 did not den} s of imagination on certain nervous con- 

stitutions. " Mesmerism could cure nobody ; credulity could cure 
■ was the well-known storj of the old woman tried 
as a witch ; she cured agues hy a, bharm ; she owned the impeach- 
ment, and was ready to endure gibbel or stake for the truth of her 
talisman — more than a mesmerist, would for the truth of his 
passes ! And the charm toas a scroll of gibberish sewn in an old 
and given to the woman in a freak by the judge himself when 
a young scamp on the circuit. But the charm cured '. Certainly; 
just as mesmerism cures. Fools believed in it. Faith, that moves 
mountains, may well cure ague: 

Thus J ran on, supporting my views with anecdotes and facts, to 
which Sir Philip listened with placid gravity. 

When I had come to an end, he said, " Of mesmerism, as 
practised in Europe, I know nothing, except by report. I can well 
understand, that medical men may hesitate to admit it among the 
legitimate resources of orthodox pathology; because, as 1 gather 
from what you and others say of its practice, it must, at the best, 
he hir too uncertain in its application to satisfy the requirements 
of science. Vet an examination of iis pretensions may enable 
you to perceive the truth that lies hid in the .powers ascribed to 
wiiehcraft ; henevolence is but a weak agency compared to malig- 
nity ; magnetism perverted to evil may solve half the riddl 
sorcery. On this, however, 1 say no more at present. But as to 
that which you appear to reject as the most preposterous 1 and in- 



118 A STRANGE STORY. 

credible pretension of the mesmerists, and which you designate by 
the word ' clairvoyance,' it is clear to me that you have never your- 
self witnessed even those very imperfect exhibitions which you 
decide at once to be imposture. I say imperfect, because it is only 
a limited number of persons whom the eye or the passes of the 
mesmerist can affect, and by such means, unaided by other means, 
it is rarely indeed that the magnetic sleep advances beyond the 
first vague, shadowy twilight dawn of that condition to which only 
in its fuller developments I would apply the name, of 'trance.' 
But still trance is as essential a condition of being as sleep or as 
waking, haying privileges peculiar to itself. , By means will) in the 
range of the science that explores iks nature and its laws, trance, 
unlike l\\^ clairvoyance you describe, is producible in every human 
being, however unimpressible to mere mesmerism." 

" Producible in every human being ! Pardon me if I say, that 
I will give any enchanter his own terms who will produce that 
effect upon me." 

"Will you? You' consent to have the experiment tried on 
yourself? " 

" Consent most readily." 

" 1 will remember that promise. But to return to i lie subject. 
By the word trance I do not mean exclusively the spiritual trance 
of the Alexandrian Platonists. There is one. kind of trance — that 
to which all human beings are susceptible — in which, the soul has 
no share ; for of this kind of trance, and it was of this I spoke, 
some of (he inferior animals are susceptible; and, therefore, trance 
is no more a proof of soul than is the clairvoyance of the mesmer- 
ists, or the dream of our ordinary sleep, which last lias been called 
a proof of soul, though any nwm who has kept a dog must have 
observed that dogs dream as vividly as We do. Bu1 in this trance' 
there is an extraordinary cerebral activity — a projectile force given 
to the mind — distinct from the soul — by which it sends forth its 
own emanations to a distance in spite of material obstacles, just as 
a flower, in an altered condition of atmosphere, sends forth the 
particles of its aroma. This should not surprise you. Your 
thought travels over land and sea in your waking state; thought, 
too, can travel in trance, and in trance may acquire an intensified 
force. There is, however, another kind of trance which is truly 
called spiritual, a trance much more rare, and in which the soul 
entirely supercedes the mere action of the mind." 

" Stay,'' said I, "you speak of the soul as something distinct 
from the mind. What the soul may be I cannot pretend to con- 
jecture. But I cannot separate it from the intelligence ! " . 

"Can you not? A blow on the brain can. destroy the intelli- 
gence ; do you think it can destroy the soul ? It is recorded of 
Newton, that, in the decline of his life, his mind had so worn out 
its functions that his own theorems had become to him unintelli- 
gible Can you suppose that Newton's soul was as worn out as his 



A STRAXGE STORY. 119 

mind ? If you canaot distinguish mind from soul, I know not by 
what rational inductions you arrive at the conclusion that the soul 
is imperishable." 

I remained silfcnt. Sir Philip fixed on me his dark eyes quietly 
and saarchinglyj and after a short pause said: 

"Almost every known bqdy in nature is suseeptible of three 
several states of existence — the solid, the liquid, the aeriform. 
These conditions depend on the quantity of heat they oohtain. 
The same object at one moment may be liquid, at the nexi mo- 
ment solid, at the next aeriform. The water that flows before your 
gaze may stop consolidated into ioe, or ascend into air as vapor. 
Tims is man susceptible of three states of existence — the animal, 
the menial, the spiritual — and according as be is brought in > 
lation or affinity with that occult agency of the whole natural 
world, which we familiarly call 11 HAT. and which no science has 
splained; which no scale can weigh, and no eye discern; one 
or the other of these three states of being prevails or is subjected." 

I still continued silent, for I was unwilling discourteously to say 
to a stranger, so much older than myself, that be seemed to me to 
reverse all the maxims of (lie philosophy to which be made pre- 
tence, in founding speculations audacious and abstruse upon un- 
analogous comparisons that, would have been fantastic even in a 
poet. And Sir Philip, after another pause, resumed with a half 
smile : 

"After what I have said, if will perhaps not very much surprise 
you when L add that but for my belief iu the powers I ascribe to 
trance, we should not be known to each other at tins moment." 

"How? — pray explain'." 

"Certain circumstances, which I trust to relate to you in detail 
hereafter, have imposed on me the duty to discover, and to bring 
human laws to bear upon, a creature armed with terrible powers of 
evil. This monster — fur, without metaphor, monster it is, not man 
like ourselves — has, by arts superior to those of ordinary fugitives, 
however dexterous in concealment, bitherto.for years eluded my re- 
search. Through the trance of an Arab child, who in her waking 
state never beard of its existence, I have learned that this being is 

in England — is in L . I am here to encouufer him. I expect 

to do so this very night, and under this very roof." 

" Sir Philip ! " 

'• And if you wonder, as well you may. why I bave been talking 
to you with tins startling unreserve, know that this same Arab 
child, on whom I thus implicitly rely, informs me that your life is 
mixed up with that of the being I seek to unmask and disarm — to 
be destroyed by bis arts or his agents — or to combine in the causes 
by which the destroyer himself shall be brought to destruction." 

"My life! — your Arab child mined me, Allen Feriwick I" 

"My Arab child told me that the person in whom I should thus 
naturally seek an ally was be who had saved the life of the man 



120 A STKANGE STORY. 

whom T then meant for my heir, if I died unmarried and childless. 
She told me that I should not be many hours in this town, which 
she described minutely, before you would be made known to me. 
She described this house, with yonder lights and yon dancers. In 
her trance she saw us sitting- together, as now we lit. I accepted 
the invitation of our host when he suddenly accosted me on entering 
the town, confident that I should meet you here without even ask- 
ing whether a person of your name was a resident in the place; and 
now you know why I have so freely unbosomed myself of much 
that might well make you, a physician, doubt the soundness of my 
understanding. The same infant, whose vision has been realized 
up to this -monlent, has warned me also that I am here at great 
peril. What that peril may he I have declined to learn, as I have 
ever declined to ask from the future what effects only my cwn life 
on this earth.. That life I regard with supreme indifference; con- 
scious that I have only to discharge, Avhile it lasts, the duties for 
which it is imposed on me to the best of my imperfect power; and 
aware that minds the strongest and souls the purest may fall into 
the sloth habitual to predestinarians if they suffer the actions due to 
the present hour to be awed and paralyzed by some grim shadow 
on the future ! It is only where, irrespectively of aught that can 
menace myself, a light not struck out of my own reason can guide 
me to disarm evil or minister to good, that I feel privileged to 
myself of those mirrors on which|thingS, near and far, reflect them- 
selves calm and distinct as the banks and the mountain peaks are 
reflected in the glass of a lake. Here, then, under this roof, and 

by your side, I shall behold him who Lo ! the moment has 

come — I behold him now ! " 

As he spoke these last words Sir Philip had risen, and, startled 
by his action and voice, I involuntarily rose too. 

Resting one hand on my shoulder, he pointed with the other to- 
ward the threshold of the ball-room. There, the prominent figure 
of a gay group — the sole male amidst a fluttering circle of silks 
and lawn, of flowery wreaths, of female loveliness, and female frip- 
pery — stood the radiant image of Margrave. His eyes were not 
turned toward us. He was looking down, and his light laugh came 
soft, yet ringing, through the general murmur. 

I turned my astonished gaze back to Sir Philip — yes, unmis- 
takably it was on Margrave that his look was fixed. 

Impossible to associate crime with the image of that fair youth ! 
Eccentric notions — fantastic speculations — vivacious egotism — 
defective benevolence — yes. But crime ! Xo — impossible. 

" Impossible ! " I said, aloud. As I spoke the group had moved 
on. Margrave was no longer in sight. At the same moment some 
other guests came from the ball-room and seated themselves near 
us. 

Sir Philip looked round, and observing the deserted museum^ at 
the end of the corridor, drew me into it. 



A STRAXOR STORY. 121 

When we were alone ho said In a voice quick and low, but de- 
cided : 

"It is of importance that I should convince you at once of ihe 
nature of thai prodigy which is more hostile to mankind than the 
wolf is to the sbeepfold. No words of mine could al presenl suffice 
to clear your sight from the deception which cheats it. I must. 
enable ydu to judge for yourself. It .must he now, and here. He 
will learn this night, if he'has nbt ; leamed already, that 1 am in the 
town. Dim and confused though his memories of myself may be, 
they are memories still; and be well knows what cause he has to 
: me. I must put another in possession of his secret. Another, 
and a Fof all his arts will be brought to hear againsl me, 

and I cannot foretell its issue. .Go.then; enter thai giddy crowd — 
select that seeming young man — brjng him hither. Take care only 
riot to mention" my name; and when here, turn the key in the door, 
so as to prevent interruption — five minutes will suffice." 

•'Am 1 sure that I guess whom you mean? The young light- 
hearted man, known in this place under the name of Margrave I 
The Voting man with the radiant eves, and the curls of a Gre 
e?" ' 

•• The same ; him whom 1 pointed out ; quick, bring him hither." 
. Curiosity Was loo much roused to disohey. Had I conceived 
that Margrave, in the heat of youth, had committed some offence 
which placed him in danger of the law and in the power of Sir 
Philip Derval, I possessed enough of the old borderers' black-mail 
loyalty unhavo given to the man whose hand 1 had familiarly 
clasped a hint ami a help to escape. But all Sir Philip's talk had 
30 out of the reach of common sense, that I rather expected 
to see him confounded by some egregious illusion than Margrave 
exposed to any well-rounded accusation. All, then, that I fell 
as 1 walked into the hall-room and approached Margrave, was 
leal curiosity which, I think, any one of my readers will acknowl- 
edge that, in my position, he himself would have felt. 

Margrave was standing near the dancers, not joining them, hut 
talking with a young couple in the ring. I drew him aside. 

"(Vine with me for a few minutes into the museum ; I wish to 
talk with you." ■ 

" What about > an experiment '?" 
8, an experiment." 

"Then 1 am at your service." 

In a minute more he had followed me info the desolate, dead 
museum. 1 looked round but did not see Sir Philip. 



122 A STRANGE STORY. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

Margravk threw himself on a seat just under the great ana- 
conda ; I closed and locked the "door. When I had done so, my 
eye fell on the young man's face, and I was surprised to see that 
it had lost its color ; that it showed great anxiety, great distress ; 
that his hands were visibly trembling. 

" What is this 1 " he said, in feeble tones, and raising himself 
half from his seat as if. with great effort. " Help me up — come 
away ! Something in this room is hostile to me— hostile, over- 
powering ! What can it be 1 " 

" Truth and my presence," answered a stern, low voice ; and 
Sir Philip Derval, whose slight form the huge bulk of the dead 
elephant had before obscured from my view, came suddenly out 
from the shadow into the full rays of the lamps which lit up, as if 
for Man's revel, that mocking tomb for the playmates of nature 
which he enslaves for his service or slays for his sport. As Sir 
Philip spoke and advanced, Margrave sank back into his seat, 
shrinking, collapsing, nerveless ; terror the most abject expressed 
in his staring eyes and parted lips. On the other hand, the simple 
dignity of Sir Philip Derval's bearing, and the mild pojyer of his 
countenance, were alike inconceivably heightened. A change had 
come over the whole man, the more impressive because wholly 
undefinable. 

Halting opposite Margrave, he uttered some words in a language 
unknown to me, and stretched one hand over the young man's 
head. Margrave at once became stiff and rigid, as if turned to 
stone. Sir Philip said to me, 

" Place one of those lamps on the floor — there, by his feet." 

I took down one of the colored lamps from the mimic tree round 
which the huge anaconda coiled its spires, and placed it as I was 
,told. 

"Take the seat opposite to him, and watch." • 

I obeyed. 

Meanwhile Sir Philip had drawn from his breast-pocket a small 
steel casket, and 1 observed, as he opened it, that the interior was 
subdivided into several compartments, each with its separate lid; 
from one of these he took and sprinkled over the flame of the lamp 
a few grains of powder, colorless and sparkling as diamond dust : 
in a second or so a delicate perfume, wholly unfamiliar to my sense, 
rose, from the lamp. 

" You would test the condition of trance — test it, and in the 
spirit." 



w 



A STRANGE STORY. 12 3 

And as he spoke his hand rested lightly on my head. Hitherto, 

surprise *not unmixed with awe, I had preserved a certain 

defiance, a certain distrust. I had been, as it were, on my guard. 

But as those words were spoken, as that hand rested on my 
head, as that perfume arose from the lanlp, al! power of will de- 
serted me. My first sensation was that of passive subjugation, 
hut soon 1 was aware of a strange intoxicating "effect from the 
odor of the lamp, round which there now played a dazzling vapor. 
The room swam before me. Like a ma:: oppressed by a nig 
mare, I tried to move, to cry mil — feeling that to do so would 
suffice to* burst the thrall that bound me ; in vain. 

A time that seemed to me inexorably long, but which, as I 
found afterward, could only have occupied a few seconds, elapsed 
in this preliminary state, which, however powerless, was not with- 
out a vague luxurious sense of delight. And then suddenly came 
pain — pain, that in rapid gradations passed into a rending agony. 
Ivo;y bone, sinew, rienve, fibre of the body, seemed as if wrenched 
. and as if some hitherto unconjectiired Presence in the vital 
organization were forcing itself to light with all the pangs of travail. 
The veins seemed swollen to bursting, the heart laboring to main- 
tain its action by fierce spasms. I fee! in this description how 
language fails me. Enough that the anguish I then endured sur- 
passed all that 1 have ever experienced of physical pain. This 
dreadful interval subsided as suddenly as it had commenced. I 
felt as if a something (indefinable by any name had rushed from 
me, and in that rush that f a struggle was over, 1 was sensible of 
the passive bliss which attends the fcelease from torture, and then 
there grew mi me a wonderful cairn, and in that calm a conscious- 
ness of some lofty intelligence immeasurably beyond that which 
human memory gathers from earthly knowledge. 1 Saw before me 
the still rigid form of Margrave, and my sight seemed with ease 
to penetrate through its covering of flesh and to survey the me- 
chanism of.the whole interior being. 

"View that tenement of clay which now seems so fair, as it 
was when last I beheld it, three years ago, in the bouse of Haroun 
oi Aleppo '. " 

I looked, and gradually, and as shade after shade falls on the 
mountain-side, while the clouds gather, and the sun vanishes at 
last, so the form and face on which. 1 looked changed from exu- 
berant youth into infirm old age. The discolored wrinkled skin. 
the bleared dim eye. the flaccid muscles, the brittle, sap'ess hones 
Nor was the change that of age alone ; the expression t^\' the 
countet auce had passed into gloomy discontent, and in every fur- 
row a passion or a vice had sown the seeds of grief. 

And the brain now opened on my sight, with a I its labyrinth of 
Cells. 1 seemed to have the clew to every winding in the ma/ 

I saw therein a moral world, charred and ruined, as, in stime 
fable 1 have read, the world of the moon is described to be; yet 



n 



124 A STRANGE STORY.- 

witha! it was a brain of magnificent formation. The powers abused 
to evil had been original y of rare order; imagination, and scope: 
the energies that dare ; the faculties that discover. But the moral 
part of the brain had failed to dominate the mental. Defective 
veneration of what is good or great; cynical disdain of what is 
right and just ; in fine, a great intellect first misguided, then per- 
verted, and now falling with the decay of the body into ghastly 
but imposing ruins Such was the world of that brain as it had 
been three years ago. And still continuing to gaze thereon, I 
observed three separate emanations of light; the one ofa # palered 
hue, the second of a pale azi;re, the third a silvery spark. 

The red light, which grew paler and paler as I looked, undulated 
from the brain along the arteries, the veins, the nerves. And I 
murmured to myself, " Is this the principle of animal life? " 

The azure light equally permeated the frame, crossing and uniting 
with the red, but in a separate and distinct ray, exactly as in the 
outer world a ray of light crosses' or unites with a _ray of heat, 
though in itself a separate individual agency. And again I mur- 
mured to myself, "Is this the principle of intellectual being, di- 
recting or influencing that of animal life ; with it, yet not of it ? " 

But the silvery spark! What was that ? Its centre seemed 
the brain. But I could fix it to no single organ. Nay, wherever 
I looked through the system, it reflected itself as a star reflects it- 
self upon water. And I observed that while the red light was 
growing feebler and feebler, and the azure light was confused, ir- 
regular — now obstructed, now hufrying, now almost lost — the sil- 
very spark was unaltered, undisturbed. So independent of all which 
agitated and vexed the frame, that I became strangely aware that, 
if the heart slopped its action, and the red light died out, if the 
brain were paralyzed, that energic mind smitten into idiocy, and 
the azure light wandering objectless as a meteor wanders over the 
morass, — still that silver spark would shine the same, indestructi- 
ble by aught that shattered its tabernacle. And I murmured to 
myself, "Can that starry spark speak the presence of the soul ? 
Does the silver light shine within creatures to which no life im- 
mortil has been promised by Divine Revelation ? " 

Involuntarily I turned my sight toward the dead forms in the 
motley collection, and lo, in my trance or my vision, life returned 
to them all i To the elephant and the serpent : to the tiger, the 
vulture, the beetle, the moth ; to the fish and the polypus, and to 
yon mockery of man in the giant ape. 

I seemed to see each as it lived in its native realm of earth, or 
of air, or of water; and the red light played, more or less warm, 
through the structure of each, and the azure light, though duller of 
hue, seemed to shoot through the red, and communicate to the 
creatures an intelligence far inferior indeed to that of man, but 
sufficing to conduct the current of their will, and influence the 
cunning of their instincts. But in none, from the elephant to the 



A STRANGE STORY. 

moth, from the bird in which brain was the largest to the hybrid 

in which lift' seemed to live as in plants — in none was visible the 

starry silver spark. I turned my eyes from the creatures around, 

again to the form cowering under the huge anaconda, and in 

ir at the animation which the carcasses took in the awful 
illusions of that marvelous trance; for the tiger moved as if scent- 
ing bipod, and In the eyes of the serpent the dread fascination 
1 slowly returning. 

;ain 1 gazed on the starry spark in the form pf the man. And 
I murmured to myself, " Bui if this be the soul, why is it so un- 

irbed and undarkened by the sins which have left such I 
and such ravage in the world of the brain .'" And gazing yet 
more intently on the spark, 1 became vaguely aware tliat il 
not the soul, but the halo around the soul, as the star we see in 
heaven is not the star itself, but its circle of rays. And if the light 
itself was undisturbed and undarkened, it was because no sins 
done in the body could annihilate its essence, nor affect the ete 
of its duration. The ligJb.1 was clear within the ruins of its lodg- 
ment, because it might pass away but could not be extinguished. 

If, in the heart of the light; reflected back on my 
own soul within me its ineffable trouble, humiliation, and sorrow; 
foi- those ghastly wrecks of power placed at its sovereign command 
il was responsible; and, appalled by its own sublime fate of dura- 
tion, was about to carry into eternity the account of its mission in 
time. Vu it seemed that while the soul was still there. f 
forlorn and so guilty, even the wrecks around it were maj 
And the soul, whatever sentence if might merit, was not among 
the hopelessly lost. For in its remorse and in its shame it might 
still have retained what could serve for redemption. And 1 saw 
that the mind was storming the soul in some terrible rebellious 
war — ail of thought, of passion, pf desire, through which the; 

poured its restless How, were surging up round the starry 
in siege. And I could not comprehend the war, nor 
guess what it was that the mind demanded the soul to yield. Only 
the distim ween the two was made intelligible by I 

antagonism. And i saw that the soul, sorely tempted, looked afar 
for escape from Hi'' subjects it had ever so ill controlled, and who 
sought to reduce to their vassal the powerwhich had lost authority 
as their kin,:. 1 could feel its terror in the sympathy of toy own 
terror, tin' keenness of my own supplicating pity. 1 knew that it 
was imploring release from the perils it confessed its want of 

gtb to encounter. And suddenly the starry spi from 

the ruins and the tumult around it — rose into space and vanished. 
And where my soul had recognized the presence of soul there was 
a void. l!ui the red lighl burned still, becoming more ami more 
vivid: and as il thus repaired and recruited its lustre, the whole 
I form which had been so decrepid grew restored from decay, 
into vigor and youth ; and 1 saw Margrave as 1 had seen him 



126 A STRANGE STORY. 

hi the walking world, the radiant image of animal life in the beauty 
of its fairest bloom. 

And over this rich vitality and this symmetric mechanism now 
reigned only, with the animal life, the mind. The starry light, fled 
'and the soul vanished, still was left visible the mind — mind, by 
which sensations convey and cumulate ideas, and muscles obey 
volition; mind, as in those animals that have more than the ele- 
mentary" instincts — mind as it might be in men, were men not 
immortal. As my eyes, in the vision, followed the azure light, 

ulating as before through the cells of the brain, and crossing 
the red amidst the labyrinth of the nerves, I perceived that the 
■nee of that azure light had undergone a change; it had lost 
fchart faculty of continuous and concentrated power by which man 
improves on the works of the past, and weaves schemes to be de- 
veloped in the future of remote generations ; it had lost all sympa- 

in I he past, because it had lost all conception of a future 
beyOnd the grave ; it had lost conscience, it had lost remorse. The 
being it informed was no longer . . Mo through eternity for 

the employment of time. The azure light was even more vivid in 
certain organs useful to the conservation of existence, as in those 
organs I had observed it more vivid among some, of the inferior 

lals than it is in man — secre'tiveness, destructiveiiess, and the 

read)- perception of things immediate to the wants of the day. And 

the azure Light was brilliant in cerebral cells, where before it had 

I , such as those which harbor mirthful, .ess and hope, for 

e the light was recruited by the exuhe. yous 

lal being. But it was lead-like, or dim, in the great social or- 
whlch man suborns his own interest I if his 

dterly lost in those through which man is reminded of 
his duties to the throne of his Ma . 

In that marvelous pene'tration with which the Vi I .wed 

eived that in this mind, though in energy f 
many, though retaining, from memories or fch 
relics of a culture wide and in somethings profound; though sharp- 
and quickened into formidable, if desultory, force whenever it 
schemed or aimed at the animal self-conservation, which now 
made its master-impulse or instinct; and though among tiie re- 
miniscences of its state before its change were arts which I could 
not comprehend, but which I felt were dark and terrible, lending 
to a will never checked by remorse, arms that no healthful philoso- 
phy has placed in the arsenal of disciplined genius; though the 
mind in itself had an ally in a body as perfect in strength and 
elasticity as man can take from the favor of nature — still,' I say, I 
felt that that mind wanted the something, witheut which men never 
could found cities, frame laws, bind together, beautify, exalt the 
elements of this world, by creeds that habitually subject them to a 
reference to another. The ant, and the 'nee, and the beaver con- 
gregate and construct ; but they do not improve. Man improves 



A STRANGE STORY. 127 

because the future impels onward that which is not found in an 
ant, the bee, and the beaver — that which lias gone from the being 
before me. 

I shrank appalled into myself, covered my face with my hands, 
and groaned aloud: "Have I ever then doubted that The soul is 
distinct from mind ?" 

A hand here again touched my forehead, the light in the lamp 
was extinguished, I becante insensible, and when I recovered .1 
found myself back in the room in which T had lirst conversed with 
Sir Philip Derval. and seated, as before, on the sola by his side. 



CHAPTER XXXII I. 

My recollections of all which I have just attempted to describe 
were distinct and vivid; except, with respect to time, it seemed to 
me as if many hours must have elapsed sinpe I had entered the 
museum with Margrave; but the clock on the mantleplece mel my 
eyes as 1 turned them wistfully round the room ; and I was indeed 
amazed to perceive that five minutes had sufficed for all which it 
has taken me so long 10 narrate, and which in their transit had 
hurried me through ideas and emotions so remote from anterior 
experie 

To my astonishment, now succeeded shame and indignation — 
r that 1. who bad scoffed at the possibility oftho compara- 
tively credible influences of mesmeric action, should bave been so 

less a puppet under the hand of the slight, feilow-man b< 
me, and so morbidly impressed by phantasmagorical illusions; in- 
dignation thai by some fumes which bad special potency over the 
brain, 1 bad thus been, as it were, conjured out of my senses; and 
looking full into the calm face ai my side, 1 said, with a smile to 
which 1 soughl to convey disdain: 

" 1 congratulate you. Sir Philip Derval, on having learned in 
your travels in the Mast so expert a familiarity with the tricks of 
i.>, 'Higglers. "' 

"The East has a proverb," answered Sir Philip, quietly, "that 
tiie juggler may learn much from the dervish, but the dervish can 

learn nothing from the juggler. You will pardon me, hbwev< 
the effect produced OH you for a few minutes, whatever the cause 
of il may be, since it may serve to guard your whole life from cal- 
amities, to which it might otherwise have been exposed. And 
however you may consider that which you have just experienced 
to be a mere optical illusion, or the figmenl of a brain super-ex- 
eiled by the fumes of a vapor, look within yourself and tell me if 
you do uoL feel an inward and unanswerable conviction that there 



12 8 A STRANGE STORY. 

is more reason to slum ami to fear the creature you left asleep un- 
tie dead jaws of the giant serpent, than there would be in the 
lit itself could the venom return to its breath?" 
1 was silent, for I could not deny that that conviction had come 
to me. 

|* Henceforth, when you recover from the confusion or anger 
which now disturbs your impressions, you will be prepared to listen 
to my explanations and my recital, iA a spirit far different from 
that with which you would have received them before you were 
recited U) the experiment, which, allow me to remind you, you 
:! and defied. You will now, I trust, be fitted to become my 
confidant and assistant — you will advise with me bow, for the sake 
of humanity, we should act together against the incarnate lie, the 
anomalous prodigy which glides through the crowd in the image 
of joyous beauty. For the present I quil you. 1 have an engage- 
ment on worldly affairs, in the town this night. I am staying at 

I. , which 1 shall leave for Derval Court to-morrow evening. 

Come to me there the day after to-morrow ; at any hour that may 
suit you t Adieu." 

Here, Sir Philip Derval rose, and left the room. I made no 
effort to detain him. My mind was too occupied in striving to 
re ci elf, and account tor the phenomena that had scared 

it, and for the st - i' the impression it still retained. 

I soiight to find natural and accountable causes for effects so 
abnor al 

Lord Bacon suggests that th< its with which witches 

. ;s might have had The effect of stopping the 
ing the brain, cm! thus impressing the sic 
..', [>] dupes of their own imagination; s so vivid 

that, on waking, they were firmly convinced that they had been 
through the air to the Sccbbat. 
i remembered also having istmgui§hed.Frehch trai 

— whose veracity was unquestionable — say, that he had witnessed 
extraordinary effects produced on the sensorium by certain fumiga- 
tions used by an African pretender to magic. A person, of how- 
ever healthy a brain, subjected to toe influence of these fumigations, 
was induced to believe that he saw the most frightful apparitions. 
However extraordinary such effects, they were not incredible — 
not at variance with our notions of the known laws of nature. 
And to the vapor, or the odors which a powder applied to a lamp 
had called forth, I was, therefore, prepared to ascribe properties 
similar to those which Bacon's conjecture ascribed to the witches' 
ointment, and the French traveler to the fumigations of the African 
conjurer. 

.But, as I came to that conclusion, I was seized with an intense 
curiosity to examine for myself these chemical agencies with which 
Sir Philip Derval appeared so familiar; — to test the contents in 
that mysterious casket of steel. I also felt a curiosity no less 



A fcTBANGB STORY. 129 

eager, but more, in spite of myself, intermingled with fear, to learn 
all that Sir Philip had to communicate of the past history of Mar- 
grave. I could bul suppose that the young man must indeed be a 
terrible criminal, for a person of years so grave, and station so 
high, to intimate accusasibna so vaguely dark, and to use means so 
extraordinary in order to enlist my imagination rather than my 
reason against a youth in Whom there appeared none of the signs 
which suspicion interprets into guilt. 

While thus musing, I lifted my eyes and saw Margrave himself 
there, at the threshold of the hall-room — there, where Sir Philip 

had first pointed him out as the criminal he had come to L to 

seek and disarm ; and now, as then. Margrave was the radiant 
centre of a joyous group; not (he young hoy-god, Iacchus, amidst 
Ids nymphs could, in Grecian frieze or picture, have seemed more 
the type of the sportive, hilarious vitality of sensuous nature. He, 
must have passed, unobserved by me, in my preoccupation of 
thought, from the museum and across the room in which I sat ; and 
now there was as little trace in that animated countenance of the 
terror it had exhibited at Sir Philip's approach, as of tii i dbai 
had undergone in my trance or my phantasy. 

But he caught sight of me — left his young companions — came 
gaily to my side. 

" Did you not ask me to go with you into that museum about 
half an hour ago, or did I dream that 1 went with you?" 

•• Ves; you went with me into that museum." 

"Then pray what dull theme did you select, to set me asleep 
there I " 

I looked hard at him, and made no reply. Somewhat to my 
relief, 1 now heard my host's voice: 

" Why, 1'Ynwick, what lias become of Sir Philip Penal ?" 

"He has left. lie had business." And, as I spoke, again I 
looked hard on Margrave. 

His countenance now showed a charge ; not surprise, not dis- 
may, bul rather a play of the lip, a flash of the eye, thai indicated 
complacency — even triumph. 

"So! Sir I'hilip Derval. He is in L ; he has been here 

to-night.' So! as I expected."' 

" Did you expect it I " said our host. " No one else did. Who 
could have told yon ? " 

"The movements of men so distinguished need never lake us by 
surprise. 1 knew he was in Paris the other day. Natural he 
should conn' here. 1 was prepared for his coming." 

Margrave here turned away towards the window, which In- threw 
open and looked out. 

"There is a storm in the air," said he, as he continued to gaze 
into the night. 

Was it possible that Margrave was so wholly unconscious of 
what had passed in the museum, as to include in oblivion even the 
!) 



130 A STRANGE STOR/Y. 

remembrance of Sir Philip Derval's presence before he had been 
rendered insensible, or laid asleep ? Was it now only for the first 

time that he learned of Sir Philip's arrival in L , and visit 

to that house? Was there an}' intimation of menace in his words 
and his aspect? 

I felt that the trouble of my heart communicated itself to 
countenance and manner; and longing for solitude and fresh air, I 
quitted the house. When I found myself in the street, I turned 
round and saw Margrave still standing at the open window, but he 
did not appear to notice me ; his eyes seemed fixed abstractedly on 
space. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

I walked on slowly and with the downcast head of a man ab- 
sorbed in meditation. I had gained the broad place in which the 
main streets of the town converged, when I was overtaken by a, 
violent storm of rain. I soughl shelter under the dark archway of 
that entrance to the district of Abbey Hill which -was still balled 
Monk-gate. The shadow within the arch was so deep that I was 
not aware that I had a companion, till T heard my own name, close 
at my side. I recognized the voice before I could distinguish the 
form of Sir Philip Derval. 

" The storm will be soon over," said he, quietly. " I saw it 
coming on in time. I fear you neglected the first warning of those 
sable clouds, and must be already drenched." 

I made no reply, but moved involuntarily away towards the 
mouth of the arch. 

" I see that you cherish a grudge against me ! " resumed Sir 
Philip. " Are you then, by nature, vindictive ? " 

Somewhat softened by the friendly tone of this reproach, I 
answered, half in jest, half in earnest, 

"You must own, Sir Philip, that I have some little reason for 
the uncharitable anger your question imputes to me. Put I can 
forgive you on one condition." 

"What is that?" 

" The possession, for half an hour, of that mysterious steel casket 
which you carry about with you, and full permission to analyze 
and test its contents." 

" Your analysis of the contents," returned Sir Philip, dryly, 
"would leave you as ignorant as before, of the uses to which they 
can be applied. But I will own to you frankly, that it is my in- 
tention to select some confidant among men of science, to whom I 
may safely communicate the wonderful properties which certain 



A STRANGE STORY. 131 

essences in that casket possess. I invite your acquaintance, nay, 
your friendship, in the hope that I may find such a confidant 
in you. But the casket contains other combinations, which, if 
wasted, could not be re-supplied ; at least, by any process which 
the great Master from whom I received them, placed within reach 
of my knowledge. In this they resemble the diamond ; when the 
chemist has found that the diamond affords no other substance by 
its combustion than pure carbonic acid gas, and that the only 
chemical difference between the costliest diamond, and a lump of 
pure charcoal, is a proportion of hydrogen, less than one fifty 
thousandth pari of the weight of the substance — can the chemist 
make you a diamond l 

" These, then, the more potent, b it also the more perilous of the 
casket's contents, shall be explored by no science, submitted to no 
test. They are tliekeysto masked doors in the ramparts of Nature! 
which no mortal can pass through without rousing dread sentries 
never seen upon this side her wall. The powers they confer are 
secrets locked in my brea$t, t<> be lost in my grave; a- th< ■: skel 
which lies on my breast shall not be transferred to the hands of 
another, till ali the resl of my earthlv possessions pass away with 
my last breath in life, and my lirst in eternity.'' 

" Sir Philip Dertal," said 1. struggling against the appeals to 

fancy or to awe, made in words so strange, uttered in a tone of 
earnest conviction, and heard amidst the glare of the lightning, the 
howl of the winds, and the roll of the thunder — •• Sir Philip Derval, 
you accost me in language which, but foj - my experience of the 
powers at your command, 1 should hear with the contempt t hat is 
due to the vaunts of a mountebank, or the pity we give to the 
morbid beliefs of his dupe. As it is, 1 decline the confidence with 
which you would favor me, subject to the conditions Which it seems 
you would impose. My profession abandons to quacks all drugs 

I. may not be analyzed ; al! secrets which may not be fearless- 
ly toM. I cauiio! visit you at Derval Oourt. I cannot trust my- 

volunlarily, again in the power of a man, who has arts of 
which 1 may no1 examine the nature by which he can impose on 
my imagination, and steal away my reason." 

"Reflect well, before you so decide," said Sir Philip, with a 

solemnity that was stern. " If you refuse to be warned and to be 
armed by me, your reason and your imagination will alike be sub- 
jected to influences which I can only explain by telling you that 
there is truth in those immemorial legends which depose to the 
existence of magic." 

" Magic ! " 

'• There is a magic of two kinds— the dark and evil, appertain- 
ing to witohcrafl or necromancy ; the pure and beneficent, which 
h but philosophy, applied to oe*rtain mysteries in Nature remote 
from the beaten tracks of Science, but, which deepened the wisdom 



132 A STRANGE STORY. 

qf ancient sages, and can yet unriddle the myths of departed 
races." 

" Sir Philip," I said, with impatient and angry interruption, "if 
you think that a jargon of this kind be worthy a man of your ac- 
quirements and station, it is at least a waste of time to address it 
to me. I am led to conclude that you desire to make use of me for 
some purpose which I have a right to suppose honest and upright, 
because all you know of me is, that I rendered to your relation 
services which cannot lower my character in your eyes. If your 
object be, as you have intimated, to aid you in exposing and dis- 
abling a man whose antecedents have been those of guilt, and 
who threatens with danger the society which receives him, you 
must give me proofs that are not reducible to magic ; and you 
must prepossess me against the person you accuse, not by powders 
and fumes that disorder the brain, but by substantial statements, 
such as justify one man in condemning another. And, since you 
have thought it fit to convince me that there are. chemical means 
at your disposal, by which the imagination can be so affected as to 
accept, temporarily, illusions for realities, so I again demand, and 
now still more decidedly than before, that while you address your- 
self to my reason, whether to explain your object or to vindicate 
your charges against a man whom I have admitted to my acquaint- 
ance, you will divest yourself of all means and agencies to warp 
my judgment, so illicit and fraudulent as those which you own 
yourself to possess. Let the casket, with all its contents, be trans- 
ferred to my hands, and pledge me your word that, in giving thai 
casket, yon reserve to yourself no other means by which chemistry 
can be abused to those influences over physical organization, which 
ignorance or imposture may ascribe to — magic." 

'• I accept no conditions for my confidence, though I think 
better of you for attempting to make them. If I live, you will 
seek me yourself and implore my aid. Meanwhile, listen to me, 
and — " 

"No ; I prefer the rain and the thunder to the whispers that 
steal to my ear in the dark from one of whom I have reason to 
beware " 

So saying, I stepped forth, and at that moment the lightning 
flashed through the arch, and brought into full view the face of the 
man beside me. Seen by that glare, it was pale as the face of 
a corpse, but its expression was compassionate and serene. 

I hesitated, for the expression of that hueless countenance 
touched me ; it was not the face which inspires distrust or fear. 

" Come." said I, gently , "grant my demand. The casket — " 

" It is no scruple of distrust that now makes that, demand ; it is 
a curiosity, which in itself is a fearful tempter. Did you now 
possess what at this moment you desire, how bitterly you would 
repent." 

" Do you still refuse my demand 1 " 



A STRANGE STORY. 133 

" I refuse." 

" If then you really need me, it is you who will repent." 
I passed from the arch into the open space. The rain had 
paused, the thunder was more distant. I looked back when I had 
gained the opposite side of the way, at the angle of a street which 
led to my own house. As I did so, again the skies lightened, hut 
the flash was comparatively slight and evanescent; it did nor pene- 
trate the gloom of the arch; it. did not bring the form of §ir 
Philip into view; but, just under the base of the outer buttress to 
the gateway, I descried the outline of a dark figure, cowering down, 
huddled up for shelter, the outline so indistinct and so soon lost to 
sight, as the tlash faded, that I could not distinguish if it, were 
man or brute. If it were some chance passer-by, who had sought 
refuge from the rain, and overheard any part, of our strange talk, 
•■ the listener," thought I, with half a smihj, " must have been 
mighlly perplexed." 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

On reaching my own home, I found my servant, sitting up for 
me. with the information that my attendance was immediately re- 
quired. The little hoy whom Margrave's carelessness had so 
injured, and for whose injury he had shown so little feeling, had 
been weakened by the confinement which the nature of the injury 
required, and for the last, few days had been generally ailing. — 
The father had come to my house a few minutes before I reached 
it, in ureal distress of mind, saying that his child had been seized 
with lever; and had become delirious. Hearing that I was at 
the mayor's house, he had hurried thither in search of me. 

I felt as if it were almost a relief to the troubled and haunting 
thoughts which tormented me, to be summoned to the exercise of 
a familiar knowledge. I hastened to the bedside of the little suf- 
ferer, and soon forgot all else in the anxious struggle for a human 
life. The struggle promised to be successful ; the worst symp- 
toms began to yield to remedies prompt, and energetic, if simple. 
I remained at the house, rather to comfort and support the pa- 
rents, than because my continued attendance was absolu'ely 
needed, till the night was well nigh gone, and, all cause of imme- 
diate danger having subsided, I then found myself once more in 
the streets. An atmosphere palely clear in the gray of dawn had 
succeeded to the thunder-clouds of the stormy night; the street 
lamps, here and there, burned wan and still. I was walking 
slowly and wearily, so tired out that I was scarcely conscious of 
my own thoughts, when, in a narrow lane, my feet stopped almost 



134 A STRANGE STORY. 

mechanically before a human form stretched at full length in the 
centre of the road, right in my path. The form was dark" in the 
shadow thrown from the neighboring houses. " Some poor drunk- 
ard," thought I, and the humanity inseparable from my calling, 
not allowing me to leave a fellow-crearure thus exposed to the risk 
of being run over by the first drowsy wagoner who might pass 
along the thoroughfare, I stooped to rouse and to lift the form. 
WJnit was my horror when my eyes met the rigid si arc of a dead 
man's. I started, looked again ; it was the face of Sir Philip Der- 
val ! He was lying on his back, the countenance upturned, a dark 
stream oozing from the breast — murdered by two ghastly wounds — 
murdered not long .since ; the blood was still warm. Stunned and 
terror-stricken, 1 stood bending over the body. Suddenly i was 
touched on the shoulder. 

" Hillo ! what is this ?" said a gruff voice. 

"Murder!" 1 answered, in hollow accents, which sounded 
strangely to my own ear. 

"Murder! so it seems." And the policeman who had thus ac- 
costed me lifted the body. 

" A gentleman, by his dress. (low did this happen? How 
did you come here?" and the policeman g!an< eiously at 

me. 

At this moment, however, there came up another policeman, in 
whom 1 recognized the young man whose sister 1 had attended and 
cured. 

" Dr. Fenwick," said the last, lifting his ha: fully, and 

at the sound of my name, his fellow-policeman changed his man- 
ner, and muttered an apology. 

I how collected myself sufficiently to state the name and rank 
of the murdered man. The policemen bore the body to their 
station, to which I accompanied them. 1 then returned tomyown 
house, and had scarcely sunk on my bed when sleep' came over me. 
But what a sleep ! Never till then had I known how awfully dis- 
tinct dreams can be. The phantasmagoria of the naturalist's col- 
lection revived. Life again awoke in the serpent and the tiger, the 
scorpion moved, and the vulture flapped its wings. And there 
was Margrave, and there Sir Philip; but their position of power 
was reversed. And Margrave's foot was on the breast of the dead 
man. Still I slept on till I was roused by the summons to attend 
on Mr. Vigors, the magistrate, to whom the police had reportei 
murder. 

I dressed hastily, and went forth. As I passed through the 
street. I found that the dismal news had already spread. I was 
accosted on my way to the magistrate by a hundred eager tremu- 
lous, inquiring tongues. 

The scanty evidence I could impart was soon given. My intro- 
duction to Sir Philip at the mayor's house, our accidental meeting 
under the arch, my discovery of the corpse some hours afterwards 



A STRANGE STORY. 135 

on my return from my patient, -my professional belief that the deed 
must have been dune a very short time, perhaps but a few m-in 
utes, before I had chanced upon its victim. But, in that case, how 
account for the long interval that had elapsed between the time 
in which I had left .Sir Philip under the arch, and the time in which 
the murder must have been committed] Sir Philip could not 
have been wandering through the streets all those hours. This 
doubt, however, was easily and speedily cleared up. A M 
who was one of the principal solicitors in the town, stated that; lie 
had acted as Sir Philip's legal agent and adviser ever since Sir 
Philip came of aire, and was With the exclusive manage- 
ment of Some valuable house property which the deceased had pos- 
sessed in L ; that when Sir Philip had arrived in the town, 

late in the afternoon of the previous day, he had sent for Mr. Je. 
informed him that he. Sir Philip, was engaged to be married ; that 
lie desired to have full and minute information as to the details of 
his house property (which had greatly increased in value since his 
absence from Knglaud), in connection with the settlements his 
marriage would render necessary : and that this information was 
also required by him in respect to a codicil he desired to add to 
his will. 

lie had, accordingly, requested Mr. Jeeves to have all the 
books and statements Concerning the property ready for his in- 
spection that night, when lie would call, after leaving the ball, 
which he bad promised the mayor, whom he had accidentally met 
on entering the town, to attend. Sir Philip had also asked Mr. 
.Jeeves to detain one of his clerks in his office, in order to serve 
conjointly with Mr. . Jeeves as a witness to the codicil he desired to 
add-to his will. Sir Philip had accordingly come to Mr. Jeeves' 
house a little before midnight; had gone carefully through al. 
statements prepared for him, and had executed the fresh codicil to 
his testament, winch testament he had. in their previous interview, 
given to .Mr. Jeeves' care* sealed up. Mr. Jeeves stated that Sir 
Philip, though a man of remarkable talents and great acquirements, 
was extremely eccentric, and of a very peremptory temper, and 
that the importance attached to a promptitude for which there 
seemed no pressing occasion, did not surprise him in Sir Philip as 
' :!r, have done in an ordinary client. Sir Philip said, indeed, 
that: he should devote the next morning' to the draft for his wed- 
ding settlements, according to the information of his property 
which he had acquired ; and after a visit of very brief duration 
to Derval Court, should quit the neighborhood and return to 
Paris, where his intended bride then was, and in which city it had 
been settled that the marriage ceremony should take- place. 

Mr. Jeeves had, however, observed to him, that if he were so 
soon to be married it was better to postpone any revision of testa- 
mentary bequests, since after marriage he would have to make a 
new will altogether. 



136 A STRANGE STORY. 

And Sir Philip had simply answered. 

" Life is uncertain ; who can be sure of the morrow V 

Sir Philip's visit to Mr. Jeeves' house had lasted some hours, 
for the conversation between them had branched off from actual 
business to various topics. Mr. Jeeves had not noticed the hour 
when Sir Philip went; he could only say that as he attended him 
to the street door, he observed, rather to his own surprise, that it 
was close upon daybreak. 

Sir Philip's body had been found not many yards distant from 
the hotel at which he had put up, and to which, therefore, he was 
evidently returning, when he left Mr. Jeeves. An old-fashioned 

hotel, which had been the principal one at L when Sir Philip 

left England, though now outrivaled by the new and more central 
establishment, in which Margrave was domiciled. 

The primary and natural supposition was that Sir Philip had 
been murdered for the sake of plunder ; and this supposition was 
borne out by the fact to which his valet deposed, namely : 

That Sir Philip had about his person, on going to the mayor's 
house, a purse containing notes and sovereigns; and Ibis purse 
was now missing. 

The valet, who, though an Albanian, spoke English fluently, 
said that the purse had a gold clasp, on which Sir Philip's crest 
and initials were engraved. Sir Philip's watch was, however, un- 
taken. 

And, now, it was not without a quick beat of the heart, that 1 
heard the valet declare that a steel casket, to which Sir Philip 
attached extraordinary value, and always carried about with him, 

was also missing. 

The Albanian described this casket as of ancient Byzantian 
workmanship, opening with a peculiar spring, only known to Sir 
Philip, in whose possession it had been, so far as the servant 
knew, about three years j when, after a visit to Aleppo, in which 
the servant had not accompanied him, he had first observed it in 
his master's hands. He was asked if this casket contained arti- 
cles to account for the value Sir Philip set on it — such as jewels, 
bank notes, letters of credit, etc. The man replied that it might 
possibly do so ; he had never been allowed the opportunity of 
examining its contents ; but that he was certain the casket held 
medicines, for he had seen Sir Philip take from it some small 
phials, by which he had performed great cures in the East, and 
especially during a pestilence which had visited Eamascus, just 
after Sir Philip had arrived at that city on quitting Aleppo. 
Almost every European traveler is supposed to be a physician ; 
and Sir Philip was a man of great benevolence, and the servant 
firmly believed him also to be of great medical skill. After this 
statement, it was very naturally and generally conjectured that 
Sir Philip was an amateur disciple of homoepathy, and that the 



A STRANGE STORY. 137 

casket contained the phials or globules in use among aomcepa- 
tbists. 

Whether or not Mr. Vigors enjoyed a vindictive triumph in 
making me feel the weight of bis authority, or whether liis temper 
was milled in the excitement of so grave a case, I cannol say, 
but Ins manner was stem and his tone discourteous in the i 
tions which he addressed to me. Nor did the questions them- 
selves seem very pertinent to the object of investigation. 

"Tray, Dr. Fenwick," said he, knitting Ids brows, mid fixing 
his eyes on me rudely, "did Sir Philip Dcrval, in his oonvers; 
with you, mention the steel casket winch it seems he carried about 
with him - 

1 felt my countenance change slightly, as I answered, "Yes." 

" Did be tell you what it contained 1 "' 

"He said it contained secrets." 

" Secrets of what nature, medicinal or chemical ! Secrets 
which a physician might be curious to learn and covetous to 
possess [ " 

This question seemed to me so offensively significant that it 
roused my indignation, and 1 answered haughtily, that " a physi- 
cian of any degree of merited reputation did not much believe in, 
and still less covet, those secrets in his art, which were the boast 
of quacks and pretenders." 

"My question need not offend you. Dr. Fenwick. I put it in 
another shape. Did Sir Philip Derval so boast of the secrets con- 
tained in his casket, that a quack or pretender might deem such 
secrets of use to him 1 '" 

"Possibly he might, if he believed in such a boast," 

" Humph — he might if he so believed. I have no more ques- 
tions to put to you at present. Dr. Fenwick." 

Little of any importance in connection with the deceased, or his 
murder, transpired in the course of that day's examination and 
inquiries. ■ 

The next day, a gentleman, distantly related to the young lady 
to whom Sir Philip was engaged, and who had been for some time 

in correspondence with the deceased, arrived at L . lie had 

been sent for at the suggestion of the Albanian servant, who said 
that- Sir Philip had stayed a day at this gentleman's house in Lon- 
don, on his way to L , from Dover. 

The new comer, whose name was Danvers. gave ;i more touch- 
ing pathos to the horror which the murder had excited. It seemed 
that the motives which had swayed Sir Philip in the choice of Ids 
betrothed, were singularly pure and noble. The young lady's 
father — an intimate college friend — had been visited by a sudden 
reverse of fortune, which had brought on a fever that proved 
mortal. He had died some years ago, leaving bus only child pen- 
niless, and had bequeathed her to the care and guardianship of 
Sir Philip. 



138 A STRANGE STORY. 

The orphan received her education at a convent near Paris ; 
and when tSir Philip, a few weeks since, arrived in that city from 
the East, he offered her his hand and fortune. " I know," said 
Mr. Danvers, " from the conversation I held with him when lie 
came to me in London, that he was induced to this offer by the 
conscientious desire to discharge the trust consigned to him by 
his old friend. Sir Philip was still too young to take under his 
own roof a female ward of eighteen, without injury to her good 
name. He could only get over that difficulty by making the ward 
his wife. 'She will be safer and happier with the man she will 
love and honor for her father's sake,' said the. chivalrous gentle- 
man, ' than she will be under any other roof I could find for her.' " 

And now there arrived another stranger to L , sent for by 

Mr. Jeeves, the lawyer ; a stranger to L , but not to me ; my 

,old Edinburgh acquaintance, Richard Strahan. 

The will in Mr. Jeeves' keeping, with its recent codicil, was 
opened and read. The will itself bore date about six years ante- 
rior to the testator's tragic death ; it was very short, and, with the 
exception of a few legacies, of which the most important was ten 
thousand pounds to his ward, the whole of his property was left 
to Richard Strahan, on the condition that he took the name and 
arms of Derval within a year from) the date of Sir Philip's de- 
cease. The codicil, added to the will the night before his death, 
increased the legacy to the young lady from ten to thirty thousand 
pounds, ami bequeathed an annuity of one hundred pounds a year 
to his Albanian servant. Accompanying the will, and within the 
same envelope, was a sealed letter, addressed to Richard Strahan, 
and dated at Paris two weeks before Sir Philip's decease. Strahan 
brought that letter to me. It ran thus: "Richard Strahan, 1 
advise you to pull down the house called Derval Court, and to 
buiM another on a better site, the plans of which, to be modified 
according to your own taste and requirements* will be found among 
my papers. This is a recommendation, not a command. But 1 
strictly enjoin you entirely to demolish the more ancient part, 
which wa ipied by myself, and to destroy by fire, 

without perusal, all the books and manuscripts found in the safes 
in my study. I have appointed you my sole executor, as we'd as 
my heir, because I have no personal friends in whom I can con- 
fide as I trust I may do in the man I have never seen, simply 
because he will bear my name and represent my lineage. There will 
be found in my writing desk, which always accompanies me in my 
travels, an autobiographical work, a record of my own life, com- 
prising discoveries, or hints at discovery, in science, through means 
little cultivated in our age. You will not be surprised that before 
selecting you as my heir and executor, from a crowd of relations 
not more distant, I should have made inquiries in order to justify 
my selection. The result of those inquiries informs me that you 
have not yourself the peculiar knowledge nor the habits of mind 



A STRANGE STORY. 139 

that cmild enable you to judge' of matters 'Which demand the attain- 
ments and the practice of science ; bu1 thai you are bf an honest, 

innate nature, and will regard as sacred the last injunctioi 
a benefactor. I enjoin yen, then, to submit the aforesaid manu- 
script memoir to some man on whose character for humanity and 
honor you call place confidential reliance, and who is ac< 
to the study of the positive sciences, more especially chemistry, in 
connection with electricity and magnetism. My desire is^th 
shall edit and arrange this memoir for publication; and thai, 
wherever ho feels a c< nsbientious doubt whether any discovery, or 
hint of discovery, therein contained, would not prove more danger- 
ous than useful to mankind, he shall consult with any other three 
men of science whose names are a guarantee for probity and know- 
ledge, and according to the best of his judgment, after such con- 
sultation, suppress or publish the passage of which he has so doubted. 
I own the ambition Which first directed me towards studies of a 
very unusual charai which has encouraged me in their pur- 

suit through many years of voluntary exile, in lands where 

I be best facilitated or aided — the ami leaving behind 

me the renown of a bold discoverer in those recesses of na 
<which philosophy has hitherto abandoned to Buperstil Bui L 

feel, at the moment in which I trace these lines, a fear lest, in the 
bing interest of researches which tend to increase to a marvel- 
ous degree the power of man over all matter, animate or inani 
I may have blunted my own moi and that there 

111:1; be much in (lie knowledge which 1 sought and acquired from 
ore desire of investigating hidden truths, that could be more 
abused to purposes of tremendous evil than be likely to condu 
benignant good. And of this a mind disciplined to severe reason- 
ing, and uninfluenced by the enthusiasm which has probably ob- 
scured my own judgment, should be the unprejudiced arbiter. .Much 
as 1 have coveted and still do covet (hat fame which make: 
memory of one man the common inheritance of all. I would in- 
ly rataei that my name should pass away wish my breath, 
thai Ishould transmit to my fellow, men any portion 
knowledge which the good mighl e and the 

it unscrupulously pervert. 1 bear about with me, wherever I 
wander, a certi tfasket. I received this casket with its con- 

tents from a man whose memory 1 hold in profound veneration. 
Should 1 live to find a person whom, after minute and intimate 
trial of his character, J should deem worthy of such confidence, if 
is my intentipn to communicate to hiu ret how to prepare 

and now to u. " the powders and, essences stored within 

that casket as I myself have Oy. Others ! have 

never tested,, nor do 1 know how they could be re-supplied if lost 
i r wasted. Hut as the contents in the hands Of any 

one not duly instructed as of applying them, would 

either he useless, or conduce, through inadvertent ami ignorant 



140 A STRANGE STORY. 

misapplication, to the most dangerous consequences ; so, if I die 
without having found, and in writing named, such a confidant as I 
have described above, I command you immediately to empty all the 
powders and essences found therein into any running stream of 
water, which will at once harmlessly dissolve them. On no account 
must they be cast into nre ! 

" This' letter, Richard Strahan, will only come under your eyes 
in case the plans and the hopes which I have formed for my earthly 
future snould be frustrated by the death on which I do not calcu- 
late, but against the chances of which this will and this letter pro- 
vide. I am about to re-visit England, in defiance of a warning 
that I shall be there subjected to some peril which 1 refuse to have 
defined, because I am unwilling that any mean apprehension of 
personal danger should enfeeble my nerves in the discharge of a 
stern and solemn duty. If I overcome that peril, you will not be 
my heir ; my testament will be remodeled ; this tetter will be re- 
called and destroyed. T shall form ties which promise me the hap- 
piness I have never hitherto found, though it is common to all 
meB — the affections of home, the caresses of children, among whom 
I may find one to whom hereafter I may bequeath, in my knowl- 
edge, a far nobler heritage than my lands. In that case, however,, 
my first care would be to assure your own fortune. And the sum 
which this codicil assures to my betrothed, would be transferred to 
yourself on my wedding day. Do you know why, never having 
seen you, I thus select you for preference to all my other kindred ? 
Why my heart, in writing thus, warms to your image? Richard 
Strahan, your only sister, many years older than yourself — you 
were then a child — was the object of my first love. We were to 
have been wedded, for her parents deceived me into the belief 1hat 
she returned my atfection. With a rare and noble candor, she her- 
self informed me that her heart was given to another, who pos- 
sessed not my worldly gifts of wealth and station. In resigning 
my claims to her hand, I succeeded in propitiating her parents to 
her own choice. I obtained for her husband the living which he 
held, and I settled on your sister the dower which, at her death, 
passed to you as the brother to whom she had shown a mother's 
love, and the interest of which has secured to you a modest inde- 
pendence. 

" If these lines ever reach you, recognize my title to reverential 
obedience to commands which may seem to you wild, perhaps irra- 
tional ; and repay, as if a debt due from your own lost sister, the 
affection I have borne to you for her sake." 

While I read this long and strange letter, Strahan sat by my 
side, covering his face with his hands and weeping with honest 
tears for the man whose death had made him powerful and rich. 

" You will undertake the trust ordained to me in this letter," 
said he, struggling to compose himself. " You will read and edit 
this memoir ; you are the very man he himself would have selected. 



A STRANGE BTORY. 1-t ! 

Of your honor and humanity 1horo can be no doubt, and yon have 
studied with success the sciences which he specifics as requisite for 
the discharge of the task- he commands." 

At this request, though T could not be wholly unprepared for it, 
thy first impulse was that o( a Vague terror. It seemed to me as 
if I were becoming more and more entangled in a mysterious and 
fatal web. But this impulse soon faded in the eager yearnings of 
an ardent and irresistible curiosity. 

T premised to read the manuscript, and in order that I might 
fully imbue my mind with the object and wish of the deceased, 1 
asked leave to make a copy oftheletter I had just read. To this 
Strahan readily assented, and that copy I have transcribed in the 
preceding pages. 

1 asked Strahan if he had ye! found the manuscript; he said, 
"No, he had not yet had the heart to inspect the papers left by the 
deceased. He would now do so. lie should go in a day or two 
to l>erval Court, and reside there till the murderer was discovered, 
as doubtless he soon must be through the vigilance of the police. 
Not till that discovery was made should Sir Philip's remains, 
though already placed in their coffin, he Consigned to the family 
vault." 

Strahan seemed to have some superstitious notion that the mur- 
derer might- be more secure from justice if ids victim were thrust, 
unavenged, into the tomb. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

The belief prevalent in the town ascribed the murder of Sir 
Philip to the violence of some vulgar robber, probably not an in- 
habitant of L . Mr. Vigors did not favor that belief, lie in- 
timated an opinion, which seemed extravagant and groundless, 
that Sir Philip had been murdered, for the sake not of the missing 
purse, but of the missing casket. II was currently believed that 
the solemn magistrate had consulted one of his pretended vlairvo;/- 
ants, and that this impostor had gulled him with assurances, to 
which he attached a credit that perverted into egregiously absurd 
directions his characteristic activity and zeal. 

Be that as it may, the coroners inquest closed without casting 
any light- on so mysterious a tragedy. 

What were my own conjectures 1 scarcely dared to admit — I 
certainly could not venture to utter them. But my suspicions cen- 
tred upon Margrave. That for some reason or other he had cause 

to, dread Sir Philip's presence in L was clear, even to my 

reason. And how could my reason reject all the influences which 
had been brought to bear on my imagination, whether by the scene 



142 A STRAJXGE STORY. 

in the museum or my conversation with the deceased ? But it was 
impossible to act on such -suspicions — impossible even to confide 
them. Could I have told to any man the effect produced on me 
■ museum, he would have considered me a liar or a madman. 
in Sir Philip's accusations against Margrave there was nothing 
tangible — nothing that could bear* repetition. Those accusations, 
if analyzed, vanished into air. What did they imply 1 — that Mar- 
grave was a magician, a monstrous prodigy, a creature exceptional 
to the ordinary conditions of humanity. Would the most reckless 
lortals have ventured to bring against the worst of characters 
such a charge, on the authority of a deceased witness, and to found 
, idence so fantastic the awful accusation of murder 1 But of 
all men, certainly I — a sober, practical physician — was the last 
whom the public could excuse for such incredible implications — 
and certainly, of all men, the last against whom any suspicion of 
heinous crime would be readily entertained was that joyous youth 
in whose sunny aspect life ami conscience alii I to keep 

careless holiday. But 1 could not overcome, nor did 1 attempt to 
reason against, the horror akin to detestation that had succeeded 
ing attraction by which Margrave had before con- 
ciliated a liking founded rather on admiration than esteem. 

In order to avoid his visits, 1 kepi, away from the study in v. ' 
I had habitually spent my mornings, and to which lie had been 
accustomed to an access. And if he called'at the front 

door, 1 directed my servant to tell him that I was either from home 
or engaged. He did attempt for the first few days to visit me as 
before, but when my intention to shun him became thus manil 
desisted. ; naturally enough, as any other man so pointedly repelled 
Id have done, 
iisiained from all those houses in which 1 was likely to n 
him ; and went my professional round of visits in a close carriage ; 
so that I might nol be accosted by him in his walks. 

One morning, a very tew days after Straban had shown mi 
Philip Derval's letter, I received a note from my old colleg 
quaint auce, stating that he was going to Derval Court that after- 
noon ; that he should take with him the memoir which he had found ; 
and begging me to visit him at his new home the next day, and com- 
mence my inspection of the manuscript. I consented eagerly. 

That morning, on going my round, my carriage passed by another 
drawn up to the pavement* and I recognized the figure of Margrave 
ling beside the vehicle, and talking to some one seated within it. 
I looked back, as my own carriage whirled rapidly by, and saw with 
uneasiness and alarm that it was Richard btrahan to whom Mar- 
grave was thus familiarly addressing himself. How had the two 
acquaintance ? Was it not an outrage on Sir Philip Derval's 
memory, that the heh- he had selected should he thus apparently 
intimate with the mlm whom he had so sternly denounced .' I 
hecame still more impatient to read the memoir — in all probability 



A STRANGE STORY. 143 

it would give such explanations with respect to Margrave's ante- 
cedents, as, if not sufficing to criminate him (if legal offences, 
wou d at least effectually terminate any acquaintance between Sir 

Philip's successor and him elf. 

All my thoughts were, however, diverted to channels of far 
deeper interest even than those in which my mind had of late 
been so tuniultuously whirled along; when, on returning home, I 
found a note from Mrs. -Ashleigh. She and Lilian had just come 

back to L , sooner than she had led me to anticipate. Lilian 

had not seemed quite well the past day or two, and had been anx- 
ious to return. 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Let me recall it — softly — softly! Let me recall that evening 
spent with her! — that evening, the last before' darkness rose be- 
tween us like a solid wall. 

It was an evening, at the close of summer. The snn had set, 
the twilight was lingering si ill. We were in the old monastic par- 
den — garden so quiet, so cool, so fragrant. She was seated on a 
bench under the one great cedar-tree that rose sombre in the 
midst of the grassy lawn, with its little paradise of flowers. I 
had thrown myself on the sward at her feet ; her hand so con- 
fidingly lay in the clasp of mine. I see her still — how young, 
how fair, how innocent ! 

Strange, strange ! So inexpressibly English; so thoroughly 
Hie creature of our sober, homely life ! The pretty delicate white 
robe that I touched so timorously, and the ribbon-knots of blue 
thai so well become the soft color of the fair cheek, the wavy silk 
of the brown hair! She is murmuring low her answer to my 
trembling question — 

" As well as when last we parted 1 Do you love me as well 
still 1 " 

" There is no ' still ' written here," said she, softly, pressing, her 
hand to her heart. '• Yesterday Is as to-morrow .in the Forever." 

•' Ah ! Lilian, if I could reply to you in words as akin to poetry 
as your own." 

" Fie ! you who affect not to care for poetry J " 

" That was before you went away — before I missed you from 
my eyes, from my life — before I was quite conscious how precious 
you were to me. more precious than common words can tell ! 
Yes, there is one period in love when all men are poets, however the 
penury of their language may belie the luxuriance of their fancies. 
Whal would become of me if you Ceased to love me ?" 

" Or of me, if you ceased to love I " 



144 .A STRANG V. STORY. 

■' And somehow it seems to me this evening as if my heart drew 
nearer to you — nearer as if for shelter." 

" It is sympathy." said she, with tremulous eagerness; " that 
sort of mysterious sympathy which I have often heard you deny 
or deride ; for I, too, feel drawn nearer to you, as if there were a 
storm at hand. I was oppressed by an indescribable terror in re- 
turning home, and the moment I saw you there came a sense of 
protection." 

Her head sank on my shoulder ; we were silent some moments ; 
then we both rose by the same involuntary impulse, and round her 
slight form I twined my strong arm of man. And now we are 
winding slow under the lilacs and acacias that belt the lawn. 
Lilian has not yet heard of the murder, which forms the one topic 
of the town, for all tales of violence and blood affected her as they 
affect a fearful child. Mrs. Ash'eigh, therefore, had judiciously 
concealed (rem her the letters and the journals by which the dis- 
mal news had been carried to herself. I need scarcely say that 
the grim subject was not broached by me. In fact, my own mind 
escaped from the events which had of late so perplexed and tor- 
mented it; the tranquility of the scene, the bliss of Lilian's pres- 
ence, had begun to chase away even that melancholy foreboding 
which had overshadowed me in the first moments of our reunion. 
So we came gradually to converse of the future — of the day, not 
far distant, when we two should be as one. We planned our bri- 
dal excursion. We would visit the scenes endeared to her by 
song, to me by childhood — the basks and waves of my native 
Windermere — our one brief holiday before life returned to labor, 
and hearts now so disquieted by hope and joy settled down to the 
calm serenity of home. 

And we thus talked, the moon, nearly rounded to her full, rose 
amidsr skies without a cloud. We paused to gaze on her solemn 
haunting beauty, as' where are the lovers who have not paused to 
gaze? We were then on the terrace walk, which commanded a 
view of the town be'ow. Before us was a parapet wall, low on the 
garden side, but inaccessable on the outer side, forming part of a 
straggling irregular street that made one of the boundaries divid- 
ing Abbey Hill from Low Town. The lamps of the thorough- 
fares, in many a line and row beneath us, stre'ched far away, ob- 
scured, here and thereby intervening roofs and tall church tow- 
ers. The hum of the city came to our ears, low and mellowed in- 
to a lulling sound. It was not displeasing to be reminded that 
there was a world without, as close and closer we drew each to 
each — worlds to one another ! Suddenly, there carolled forth the 
song of a human voice — a wild, irregular, half-savage melody — 
foreign, uncomprehended words — air and words not new to me. 
1 recognized the voice and chant of Margrave. I started, and 
uttered an angry exclamation. 

" Hush ! " whispered Lilian, and I felt her frame shiver within 



A STRANGE $TOKY. 14J 

my encircling arm. "Hush! listen. Yes; I have beard that 
voice before — last night " 

" Last night ! you were not here ; you were morn than a hun- 
dred miles away."' 

" I heard it in a dream ! Hush, hush ! " 

Tbe.songrose louder; impossible to describe its effect, in the 
midst of the tranquil night, chiming over the serried roof-tops, and 
under the BOlitary moon. It was not like the artful song of man, 
for it was defective in the methodical harmony of tune ; it was not 
like the song ofthewild bird, for it had no motony in its sweet- 
ness ; if was wandering and various as : be sounds from an yEolian 
harp. But it affected the senses to a powerful degree, as in remote 
lands and in vast solitudes I have since found the note of the 
mocking-bird, suddenly heard, affect the listener half with delight, 
half with awe, as if some demon creature of the desert were 
mimicking man for its own merriment. The chant now had 
changed into an air of defying glee, of menacing exultation ; it 
might have been the triumphant war-song of some antique bar- 
barian iribe. The note was sinister : a shudder passed through 
me. and Lilian had closed her eyes, and was sighing heavily ; then 
with a rapid change, sweet as the coo with which an Arab mother 
lulls her babe to sleep, the melody died away. ".There* there, 
Ion!.," murmured Lilian, moving from me, " the same I saw last 
night in sleep : the same I saw in the space above, on the evening 
I first knew you ! " 

Her eyes were fixed — her hand raised ; my looks followed 
hers, and rested on the face and form of Margrave. The moon 
shone full upon him, so full as if concentrating all its light upon 
his image. The place on which he stood (a balcony to the upper 
story of a house about fifty yards distant) was considerably above 
the level of the terrace, from which we gazed on him. His arms 
were folded on his breast, and he appeared to be looking straight 
towards us. Even at that distance the lustrous youth of Bis 
countenance appeared to me terribly distinct, and 1 lie light of his 
derous eye seemed to rest on us in one lengthened, steady raj 
through the limpid moonshine. Involuntarily I seized Lilian's 
hand, and drew her away almost by force, for she was unwilling 
to move, and as 1 led her back, she turned her bead to look round ; 
I, loo, turned in jealous rage ! I breathed more freely. Margrave 
had disappeared. 

"How came lie there ? It is not bis hotel. Whose house is 
it ?" I said aloud, though speaking to myself. 

Lilian remained silent : her eyes fixed upon the ground as if 
in deep reverie. I took her hand ; it did not return my pressure. 
I felt cut to the heart when she drew coldly from me that 
band, till then so frankly cordial. 1 stopped short: "Lilian, 
what is this 1 you are chilled towards me. Cau the mere sound 
10 



146 A STRANGE STORY. 

of that man's voice, the mere glimpse of that man's face, have 
" I paused ; I did not dare to complete my question. 

Lilian lifted her eyes to mine, and I saw at once in those eyes 
a change. Their look was cold ; not haughty, but abstracted. " I 
do not "understand you," she said, in a weary, ljstless accent. " It 
is growing late ; I must go in." 

So we walked on moodily, no longer arm in arm, nor hand in 
hand. Then, it occurred to me that, the next day, Lilian would 
be in that narrow world of society ; that there she could scarcely 
fail to hear of Margrave, to meet, to know him. Jealousy seized 
me with all its imaginary terrors, and amidst that jealousy a no- 
bler, purer apprehension for herself. Had I been Lilian's brother, 
instead of her betrothed, I should not have trembled less to foresee 
the shadow of Margrave's .mysterious influence passing over a mind 
so predisposed to the charm which Mystery itself has for those 
whose thoughts fuse their outlines in fancies — whose world melts 
away into Dreamland. Therefore I spoke. 

" Lilian, at the risk of offending you — alas ! I have never done 
so before this night — I must address to you a prayer which I im- 
plore you not to regard as the dictate of a suspicion unworthy you 
and myself. The person whom you have just heard and seen is, 
at present, much courted in the circles of this town. T entreat you 
not to permit any one to introduce him to you. I entreat you not 
to know him. I cannot tell you all my reasons for this petition ; 
enough that I pledge you my honor that those reasons are grave. 
Trust, then, in my truth as I trust in yours. Be assured that I 
stretch not the rights which your heart has bestowed upon mine in 
the promise I ask, as I shall be freed from all fear by a promise 
which I know will be sacred when once i! is given." 

"What promise?" asked Lilian, absently, as if she had not heard 
my words. 

"What promise? Why, to refuse all acquaintance with that 
man ; his name is Margrave. Promise me, dearest, promise me." 

" Why is your voice so changed ?" said Lilian. " It's tone jars 
on my ear," she added, with a peevishness so unlike her, that it 
startled me more than it offended; and, without a word further, she 
quickened her pace and entered the house. 

For the rest of the evening we were both taciturn and distant 
towards each other. In vain Mrs. Ashleigh kindly sought to 
break down our mutual reserve. I felt that 1 had the right to be 
resentful, and I clung to that right the more because Lilian made 
no attempt at reconciliation. This, too, was wholly unlike her- 
self, for her temper was ordinarily sweet: — sweet to the extreme 
of meekness ; saddened if the slightest misunderstanding between 
us had ever vexed me, and yearning to ask forgiveness if a look 
or a word had pained me. I was in hopes that, before I Went 
away, peace between us would be restored. But long ere her 
usual hour for retiring to rest, she rose abruptly, and complaining 



A STRANGE STOKY. 14? 

of fatigue and headache, wished nie good night, and avoided the 
hand I sorrowfully held oat to her as I opened the door. 

"You must have been very unkind to poor Lilian," said Mrs. 
Ashleigh, between jest and earnest. " for I never saw her so cross 
to you before. And the firsl day of her return, too !" 

"The fault is not mine," said I, somewhat sullenly ; " T did but 
ask Lilian, and that as a humble prayer, not to make the acquain- 
tance of a stranger in this town against whom I have reasons for 
distrust and aversion. I know not why that prayer should displease 
her." 

"Nor I. Who is the stranger]" 

"A person who calls himself Margrave. Let me at least en- 
treat you to avoid him ?" 

" Oh, I have no desire to make acquaintance with strangers. — 
But, now Lilian is gone, do tell me all about tins dreadful murder? 
The servants are full of it, and I cannot keep it long concealed 
from Lilian. 1 was in hopes that you would have broken it to 
her." 

1 rose impatiently ; I could not bear to talk thus of an event 
the tragedy of which was associated in my mind with circum- 
stances so mysterious. I became agitated and even angry when 
Mrs. Ashleigh persisted in rambling woman-like inquiries — " Who 
was suspected of the deed? Who did 1 think had committed it / 
"What sort, of a man was Sir Philip? What was that s'tri 
story about a casket?" Breaking from' such interrogations, lo 
which I could give but abrupt and evasive answers, I seized my 
hat, and took my departure. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

LETTER FROM ALLEN FKWVICK TO LILIAN ASHLEIGH. 

" 1 have promised to go to Derval Court to-day, and shall not 
return till to-morrow. I cannot bear the thought that so many 
hours should pass away with one feeling less kind than usual rest- 
ing like a cloud upon you and me, Lilian, if I offended you, for- 
give me 1 Send me one line to say so ? — one line which I can 
place next niv heart and cover with grateful kisses tit! we meet 
again V 

REPLY. 

" I scarcely know what you mean, nor do I quite understand my 
own state of mind at this moment. It cannot be that I love you 
less — and yet — but I will not write more now. I feel glad that 
we shall not meet tbr the next day or so, and then I hope to be 
quite recovered. I am not well at this moment, Do not ask me 
to forgive you — but if it is 1 who am in fault — forgive me, oh, for- 
give me, Allen." 



148 A STRANGE STORY. 

And with this unsatisfactory note — not worn next my heart, not 
covered with kisses, but thrust crumbled into my desk like a cred- 
itor's unwelcome bill — I flung myself on my horse and rode to 
Derval Court. I was naturally proud ; ray pride came now to my 
aid. I felt bitterly indignant against Lilian, so indignant that I 
resolved on my return to say .to her, " If in those words, ' And 
yet,' you implied a doubt whether you loved me less, I cancel your 
vows, I give you back your freedom." And I could have passed 
from ber threshold with a firm foot, though with the certainty that 
I should never smile again. 

Does her note seem to you who may read these pages to justify 
such resentment. ? Perhaps not. But there is an atmosphere in 
the letters of the one we love, which we alone — we who love — can 
feel, and in the atmosphere of that letter I felt the chill of the com- 
ing winter. 

I reached the park lodge of Derval Court late in the day. I had 
occasion to visit some patients whose houses lay scattered many 
miles apart, and for that reason, as well as from the desire of some 
quick bodily exercise which is so natural an effect of irritable per- 
turbation of mind, I had made the journey on horseback instead 
of using a carriage, that I could not have got through the lanes 
and field paths by which alone the work set to myself could be ac- 
complished in time. 

Just as 1 had entered the park, an uneasy thought seized hold 
of me with the strength which is ascribed to presentiments. I 
had passed through my study (which has been so elaborately de- 
scribed) to my stables, as I generally did when I wanted my sad- 
dle horse, and, in so doing, had doubtless left open the gate to the 
iron palisade, and probably the window of the study itself. I had 
been in this careless habit for several years, without ever once 
having cause for self-reproach . As I before said, there was noth- 
ing in my study to tempt a thief ; the study shut out from the body 
of the house, and the servant sure at nightfall both to close the 
window and lock the gate ; — yet, now, for the first time, I felt an 
impulse, urgent, keen and disquieting, to ride back to the town 
and see those precautions taken.. I could not guess why, but some- 
thing whispered to me that my neglect had exposed me to some 
great danger. I even checked my horse and looked at my watch ; 
too late ! — already just on the stroke o'f Strahau's dinner-hour as 
fixed in his note ; my horse, too, was fatigued and spent ; besides, 
what folly ! what bearded man can believe in the warnings of a 
"presentiment." I pushed on, and soon halted before the old- 
fashioned flight of stairs that led up to the hall. Here I was ac- 
costed by the old steward ; he had just descended the stairs, and, 
as I dismounted, he thrust his arm into mine unceremoniously, 
and drew me a little aside. 

" Doctor, I was right ; it was his ghost that I saw by the iron 
door of the mausoleum. I saw it again at the same place last 



A STRANGE STORY. 149 

night, but J had no fit then. Justice on his. murderer ! Blood 
for blood ! " 

" Ay !" said I, sternly ; for if I suspected Margrave 'before, I 
felt convinced no w_ that the inexpiable deed was his. Wherefore 
convinced? Simply because, I now hated him more, and hate is 
so easily convinced ! " Lilian ! Lilian ! " I murmured to myself 
that name ; the flame of my hate was fed by my jealousy. " Ay !" 
said I. sternly, "murder will out,'' 

" What are the police about I " said the old man, querulously ; 
" days pass on days, and no nearer the truth. But what does tbe 
new owner care 1 He has the reins and acres : what does he care 
for the dead ? I will never serve another master. I have jus! 
told Mr. Straban so. How do I know whether he did not do the 
deed ! Who else had an interest in it." 

" Hush* hush ! " I cried; "you do not know what you say so 
wildly." 

The old man stared at me, shook his head, released my arm, and 
strode away. 

A laboring man came out of the garden, and having unbuckled 
the saddle-bags, which contained a few things required for so 
short a visit, 1 consigned my horse to his care, and ascended the 
perron. The old housekeeper met me in the hall, conducted me 
up the great staircase, showed me into a bedroom prepared for me, 
and told me that Mr. Strahan was already waiting dinner for me. 
I should find him in the study. I hastened to join him. lie be- 
gan apologizing, very unnecessarily, for the state of his establish- 
ment, He had, as yet, engaged no new servants. The house- 
t. with the help of a housemaid, did all the work. 

Richard Strahan at college had been as little distinguishable 
from other young men as a youth neither rich nor poor, neither 
clever nor stupid, neither handsome nor ugly, neither audacious 
sinner nor formal saint, possibly could be. 

Yet, to those who understood him well, he was not without some 
of those moral qualities by which a youth of mediocre intellect 
Often matures into a superior man. 

He was, as Sir Philip had been rightly informed, thoroughly 
! and upright, But with a strong sense of duty, there was 
also a certain latent hardness. He was not indulgent. He had 
outward frankness with acquaintances, but was easily roused to 
suspicion. He had much of the thriftiness and self-denial of the 
North Countryman, and I have no doubt that he had lived with 
ealm content and systematic economy on an income which made 
him, as a bachelor, independent of his nominal profession, but 
would not have sufficed, in itself, for the fitting maintenance of a 
wile and family. He was, therefore, still single. 

!l seemed to me, even during the few minutes in which we con- 
versed before dinner was announced, that his character showed a 
new phase with his uew fortunes. He talked in a grandiose style 



150 A STRANGE STORY. 

of the duties of station and the woes of wealth. He seemed to be 
very much afraid of spending, and still more appalled at the idea 
of being cheated. His temper, too, was ruffled ; the steward had 
given him notice to quit. Mr. Jeeves, who had spent the morn- 
ing with him, had said the steward would be a great loss, and a 
steward, at once sharp and honest, was not to be easily found. 

What trifles can embitter the possession of great goods ! 
Strahan had taken a fancy to the old house ; it was conformable 
to his notions, both of comfort and pomp, and Sir Philip had ex- 
pressed a desire that the old house should be pulled down. Strahan 
had inspected the plans for the new mansion to which Sir Philip 
had referred, and the plans did not please him; on the contrary, 
they terrified. 

" Jeeves says thai I could not build such a house under seven- 
ty or eighty thousand pounds, and then it -will require. twice the 
establishment which will suffice for this. I shall be ruined," cried 
the man who had just come into possession of at least twelve 
thousand a year. 

" Sir Philip did not enjoin you to pull down the old house ; he 
only advised you to do so. Perhaps he thought the site less 
healthy than that which he proposes for a new building, or was 
aware of some other drawhack to the house, which you may 
discover later. Wait a little and see before deciding." 

" But, at all events, I suppose I must pull down this curious old 
room — the nicest part of the whole house ! " 

Strahan, as he spoke, looked wistfully round at the quaint oak 
chimney-piece ; the carved ceiling ; the well-built solid walls, 
with the large mullion casement, opening so pleasantly on the se- 
questered gardens. He had ensconced himself in Sir Philip's 
study, the chamber in which the once famous mystic, Forman, 
had found a refuge. 

" So cozy a room for a single man ! " sighed Strahan. " Near 
the stables and dog-kennels, too ! But I suppose I must pull it 
down. I am not bound to do so legally ; it is no condition of the 
will. But in honor and gratitude I ought not to disobey poor Sir 
Philip's positive injunction." 

" Of that," said I, gravely, " there cannot be a doubt." 

Here our conversation was interrupted by Mrs. Gates, who in- 
formed us that dinner was served in the library. Wine of great 
age was brought from the long-neglected cellars ; Strahan tilled 
and refilled his glass, and, warmed into hilarity, began to talk of 
bringing old college friends around him in the winter season, and 
making the roof-tree ring with laughter and song once more. 

Time wore away, and night had long set in, when Strahan at 
last rose from the table, his speech thick and his tongue unsteady. 
We returned to the study, and I reminded my host of the special 
object of my visit to him, namely, the inspection of Sir Philip's 
manuscript. 



A STRANGE STORY. 151 

" It is tough reading." said Strahan ; " better put it off till to- 
morrow. You will stay here two or three days." 

"No; I must return to L to-morrow. I cannot absent 

myself from my patients. And it is the more desirable that no 
time should be lost before examining the contents of the manu- 
script, because probably they may give some clue to the detection 
of the .murderer." 

" Why do you think that?" cried Strahan, startled from the 
drowsiness that, was creeping over him. 

"Because the manuscript may show that Sir Philip had some 
enemy — and who but an enemy could have had a motive for such 
a crime ? Come, bring forth the book. You of all men are bound 
to be alert in every research that may guide the retribution of 
justice to the assassin of your benefactor," 

"Yes, yes. I will offer a reward of iive thousand pounds for 
the discovery. Alien, thai wretched old steward had the inso- 
lence to tell me that I was the only man in the world who could 
have an interest in the death of his master; and he looked at me 
as if he thought that I had committed the crime. You are right, 
it becomes me, of all men, to be alert. The assassin must be 
found. lie must hang." 

While thus speaking. Strahan had risen, unlocked a desk which 
stood on one of the safes, and drawn forth a thick volume, the 
contents of which were protected by a clasp and lock. Strahan 
proceeded to open this lock by one of a bunch of keys, which he 
said had been found on Sir Philip's person. 

" There, Allen, this is the memoir, I need not tell you what store 
1 place on it ; not, between you and me, that I expect it will war- 
rant poor Sir Philip's high opinion of his own scientific discover- 
ies. That part of his letter seems to me very queer, and very 
flighty. But he evidently set his heart on the publication of his 
work, in part if not in whole. And, naturally, I must desire to 
comply wiih a wish so distinctly intimated by one to whom I owe 
so much. 1 beg you, therefore, not to be too fastidious. Some valu- 
able hints in medicine, I have reason to believe, the manuscript 
will contain, and those may help you in your profession, Allen." 

" You have reason to believe ! Why 1 " 

•• Oh, a charming young fellow, who, with most of the other 

gentry resident at L , called on me at my hotel, told me that 

he had traveled in the East, and had there heard much of Sir 
Philip's knowledge of chemistry, and the cures he had enabled 
him to perform." 

" You speak of Mr. Margrave. He called on you 1 " 
'• Yes." 

"You did not, I trust, mention to him the existence of Sir 
Philip's manuscript." 

" Indeed I did : and I said you had promised to examine it. He 



152 A STRANGE STORY. 

seemed delighted at that, and spoke most highly of your peculiar 
fitness for the task." 

- " Give me the manuscript," said I abruptly, " and, after I have 
looked at it to-night, I may have something to say to you to-mor- 
row in reference to Mr. Margrave." 

" There is the book," said Strahau ; " I have just glanced at it, 
and find much of it written in Latin : and I am ashamed to say that 
I have so neglected the little Latin I learned in our college days, 
that I could not construe what I looked at." 

I sat down and placed the book before me ; Strahan fell into a 
doze, from which he was wakened by the housekeeper, who brought 
in the tea-things. 

"Well," said Strahan, languidly, "do you find much in the 
book that explains the many puzzling riddles in poor Sir Philip's 
eccentric life and pursuits 1 " 
x " Yes," said I. " Do not interrupt me." 

Strahan again began to doze, and the housekeeper asked if we 
should want anything more that night, and if 1 thought I could 
find my way to my bedroom. 

I dismissed her impatiently, and continued to read. 

Strahan woke up again as the clock struck eleven, and finding 
me still absorbed in the manuscript, and disinclined to converse, 
lighted his candle, and telling me to replace the manuscript in the 
desk when I had done with it, and be sure to lock the desk and take 
charge of the key, which he took off the bunch and gave me, went 
up stairs, yawning. 

I was alone, in the wizard Forman's chamber, and bending over 
a stranger record than had ever excited my infant wonder, or, in 
later years, provoked my sceptic smile. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

The Manuscript was written in a small and peculiar handwrit- 
ing, which, though evidently by the same person whose letter to 
Strahan I had read, was, whether from haste or some imperfection 
in the ink, much more hard to decipher. Those parts of the memoir 
which related to experiments, or* alleged secrets in Nature; that 
the writer intimated a desire to submit exclusively to scholars or 
men of science, were in Latin — and Latin which, though grammati- 
cally correct, was frequently obscure. But all that detained the 
eye and attention on the page, necessarily served to impress the 
contents more deeply on remembrance. 



A STRANGE STORV. 153 

The narrative commenced with the writer's sketch of his child- 
hood. Both his parents had died before he attained Ins seventh year. 
The orphan had been sent by his guardians to a private school, and 
his holidays had been passed at Derval Court. Here, his earliest 
reminiscences were those of the quaint old room, in which I now- 
sat, and of his childish wonder at 'the inscription on the chimney- 
piece — who, and what was Simon Formal) who had there found a 
refuge from persecution? Of what nature were the studies he had 
cultivated, and the disooveries he boasted to have made ? 

When be was about sixteen, Philip Derval had begun to, r 
the many mystic books which the library contained; but wil 
oilier result in his mind than the sentiment of disappoint 
disgust. The impressions produced on the credulous imagination 
of childhood had vanished. He went to the University ; was sen; 
abroad to travel : and' on his return took that place in the circles 
of London which is so readily conceded to a young idler of birth 
and fortune. He passed quickly over thai period of his life, as one 
ag&nce and dissipation, from which he was first drawn by 
the attachment for his cousin to which his letterto Straban referred. 
Disappointed in the hopes which that affection had conceived, and 
his fortune d, partly by some years of reckless profusion, 

and partly by the pecuniary sacrifices at Which id his 

cousin's marriage with another, he retired to Derval Court, to live 
there in solitude and seclusion. On searching for some old title- 
required for a mortgage, he chanced upon a collection of 
manuscripts much discolored, and, in part, eaten away by moth or 
damp. These, on examination, proved to be the writings of For- 

Some of them were astrological observations and pi 
lions; some were upon the nature of the Cabala; a in the 

invocations of spirits and the magic pf the dark ages. All had a 
certain interest, for they were interspersed with personal remarks, 
anecdotes of erain< ■;. very stirring time, and were o 

as Colloquies, in imitation of Erasmus; the second person in 
the dialogue being Sir Miles Derval. the patron and pupil ; the 
person being Forman, the philosopher and expounder. 

But along with these shadowy Lucubrations were treatises of a 
more uncommon and a more startling character; discussions on 
various occult laws of nature, and detailed accounts of anab 

riments. These opened a hew, and what seemed to Sir Philip 
a practical, Held of inquiry — a true border, land between natural 
science and imaginative speculation. Sir Philip had cultivated 
philosophical science at the university; he resumed the study, and 
l himself the truth of various experiments suggested by For- 
man. Some, to his surprise, proved successful — some wdiolly fail- 
ed. These lucubrations first of the memoir 
towards the studies in which the remainder of bis life had been 
consumed. But he spoke of mis themselves as v 
hie only where suggestive of some truths which Forman 



154 A STRANGE STORY. 

accidentally approached, without being aware of their true nature 
and importance. They were debased by absurd puerilities, and 
vitiated by the vain aud presumptuous ignorance which character- 
ized the astrology of the middle ages. For these reasons the 
writer intimated his intention (if he,lived to return to England) to 
destroy Forman's manuscripts, 'together with sundry other books, 
and a few commentaries of his own upon studies which' had for a 
while misled him — all now deposited in the safes of the room in 
which I sat. 

After some years passed in the retirement of Derval Court, Sir 
Philip was seized with the desire to travel, and the taste he had 
imbibed for occult studies led him toward those Eastern lands in 
which they took their origin, and still retain their professors. 

Several pages of the manuscript were now occupied with minute 
statements of the writer's earlier disappointment in the objects of 
his singular research. The so-called magicians, accessible to the 
curiosity of European travelers, were either but ingenious jugglers, 
or produced effects that perplexed him by practices they had me- 
chanically learned, but of the rationale of which they were as 
ignorant as himself. It was not till he had resided some consider- 
able time in the East, and acquired a familiar knowledge of its 
current languages and the social habits of its various populations, 
that he became acquainted with men in whom he recognized earnest 
cultivators of the lore which tradition ascribes to the colleges and 
priesthoods of the ancient world ; men generally living remote from 
others, and seldom to be bribed by money to exhibit their marvels 
or divulge their secrets. In his intercourse with these sages, Sir 
Philip arrived at the conviction that there does exist an art of 
magic, distinct from the guile of the conjurer, and applying to cer- 
tain latent powers and affinities in nature a philosophy akin to that 
which we receive in our acknowledged schools, inasmuch as it is 
equally based upon experiment, and produces from definite causes 
definite results. In support of this startling proposition, Sir Philip 
now devoted more than half bis volume to the details of various 
experiments, to the process and result of which he pledged his 
guarantee as the actual operator. As most of these alleged exper- 
iments appeared to be wholly incredible, and as all of them were 
unfamiliar to my practical experience, and could only be verified or 
falsified by tests that would require no inconsiderable amount of 
time and care, I passed, with little heed, over the pages in which 
they were set forth. 1 was impatient to arrive at that part of the 
manuscript which might throw light on the mystery in which my 
interest was the keenest. What were the links which connected 
the existence of Margrave with the history of Sir Philip Derval ? 
Thus hurrying on page after page, I suddenly, toward the end of 
the volume, came upon the name that arrested my attention — 
Haroun of Aleppo. Pie who oas read the words addressed to me 
in my trance may well conceive the thrill that shot through my 



A STRANGE STORY. 155 

heart when I came upon that name, and will readily understand 
how much more vividly my memory retains that part of the manu- 
script to which I now proceed than all which had gone before. 
* "It was," wrote Sir Philip, "in an obscure suburb of Aleppo 
that I at length met with the wonderful man from whom I have 
ired a knowledge immeasurably more profound and occult 
than that which may he tested in the experiments to which I have 
devoted so large a share of this memoir, llaroun of Aleppo had, 
indeed, mastered every secret in nature which the nobler, or tl e- 
urgic. magic seeks to fathom. 

"He had discovered the great Principle of Life, which 
hitherto baffled the subtlest anatomist : — provided only that the 
organs were not irreparably destroyed, there was no disease 
he could not cure; no decrepitude to which he could not re- 
store vigor ; vet his science was based on the same theory as that 
used by the best professional practitioners of medicine — name- 
ly, thai the true an of healing is to assist Nature to thro 1 
disease — to summon, as it were, the whole system to eject the 
enemy thai has fastened on a part. And thus bJ8 processes, I hough 
ionally varying in the means employed, ad combined in this — 
namely, the reinvigorating and recruiting of the principle of life." 

No one knew the birth or origin of llaroun ; no one knew his age. 
In outward appearance he was in the strength and prime of mature 
manhood, lint, according to testimonies in which the writer of the 
memoir expressed a belief that. I need scarcely say. appeared to 
me cgregiously credulous, Ilarouifsexisteiice under the same name, 
and known by the same repute, could be traced bad; io more than 
a hundred years, lie told Sir Philip that he had thrice renewed 
his own lilt\ and had resolved to do so no more — he had grown 
weary of living on. With all his gifts, llaroun owned himself to 
be consumed by a profound melancholy. He complained that there 
was nothing new to him under the sun ; be said that, while he had 
at his command unlimited wealth, wealth had ceased to bestow en- 
joyment ; and he preferred living as simply as a peasant: he had 
tired out all the affections and all the passions of the humati heart; 
he was in the universe as in ;i solitude. In a word, llaroun would 
often repeat, with mournful solemnity, "The soul is not meant to 
inhabit this earth, and in fleshy tabernacle, for more than the pe- 
riod usually assign* d to mortals ; and when by art in repairing the 
walls of the body, we so retain it, the soul repines, becomes inert 
or dejected." "lie only,'" said llaroun, "would feel continued 
joy in existence who could preserve in perfection the sensual pan 
ot man, with such mind or reason as may he independent of the 
Bpiril ual essence ; hut whom soul itself has quitted ! Man, in short, 
as the grandest of the animals, hut without the sublime discon- 
tent of earth, which is the peculiar attribute of sdul.'-' 

One evening Sir Philip was surprised, to nnd at llaroun's house 
another European, lie paused in his narrative to describe this 



156 A STRANGE STORY. 

man. He said that for three or four years previously he had heard 
frequent mention, amongst the cultivators of magic, of an oriental- 
ized Englishman engaged in researches similar to his own, and to i 
whom was ascribed a terrible knowledge in those branches of tie 
art which, even in the East, are condemned as instrumental to evil. 
Sir Philip here distinguished at length, as he had so briefly distin- 
guished in his conversation with me, between the two kinds of 
magic — that which he alleged to be as pure from sin as any other 
species of experimental knowledge, and that by which the agen- 
cies of witchcraft are invoked for the purposes of guilt. 

The Englishman, to whom the culture of this latter and darker 
kind of magic was ascribed, Sir Philip Derval had never hitherto 
come across. He now met him at the house of Haroun ; decrepit, 
emaciated, bowed down with infirmities, and racked with pain. — 
Though little more than sixty, his aspect was that of extreme old 
age, but still on his face there were seen the ruins of a once singu- 
lar beauty ; and still, in his mind, there was a force that contrasted 
the decay of the body. Sir Philip had never met with an intellect 
more powerful and more corrupt. The son of a notorious usurer, 
heir to immense wealth, and endowed with the talents which 
justify ambition, he had entered upon life burdened with the odium 
of his father's name. A duel, to which he had been provoked by 
an ungenerous taunt on his origin, but in which a temperament 
fiercely vindictive had led him to violate the usages prescribed by 
the social laws that regulate such encounters, had subjected him to 
a trial in which he escaped conviction, either by a flaw in the tech- 
nicalities of legal proceedure, or by the compassion of the jury ; 
but the moral presumptions against him were sufficiently strong to 
set an indelible brand on his honor, and an insurmountable har- 
rier to the hopes which his early ambition had conceived. After 
this trial he bad quitted his country to return to it no more. — 
Thenceforth, much of his life had been passed out of -sight or con- 
jecture of civilized men, in remote regions and amongst barbarous 
tribes. At intervals, however, he had reappeared in European 
capitals ; shunned by and shunning his equals, surrounded by 
parasites, amongst whom were always to be found men of consid- 
erable learning, whom avarice or poverty subjected to the influ- 
ences of his wealth. For the last nine or ten years he had settled 
in Persia, purchased extensive lands, maintained the retinue, and 
exercised more than the power of an Oriental prince. Such was 
the, man who, prematurely worn out, and assured by physicians 
that he had not six weeks of life, had come to Aleppo with the 
gaudy escort of an Eastern satrap, had caused himself to be borne 
in his litter to the mud-hut of Haroun the Sage, and now called 
on the magician, in whose art. was his last hope, to reprieve him 
from the — grave. 

He turned round to Sir Philip when the latter entered the room, 
and exclaimed in English, " I am here because you are. Your 



A STRANGE STORY. 157 

intimacy with this man was known to me. I took your character 
as tbe guarantee of his own, Tell me that I am no credulous 
dupe. Tell him that I, Louis Grayle, am no needy petitioner. — 
Tell me of his wisdom ; assure him of my wealth." 

Sir Philip looked inquiringly at Haroun, who remained seated 
on his carpet in profound silence. 

" What is it you ask of Haroun 1 " 

" To live on — to live on. For every year of life he can give 
me, I will load these floors with gold." 

" Gold will not tempt Haroun." 

" What will ?'" 

" Ask him yourself; you 'speak his language." 

" I have asked him ; he vouchsafes me no answer." 

Haroun here suddenly roused himself as from a reverie. He 
drew from under his robe a small phial, from which he le1 fall a 
single drop into a cap of water, and said, " Drink this Send to 
me to-morrow for such medicaments as 1 may prescribe. Return 
hither yourself in three days ; not before ! " 

When Grayle was gone, Sir Philip, moved to pity, asked Ha- 
roun if, indeed, i; were within the compass of his art to preserve 
life in a frame that appeared so thoroughly exhausted. Haroun 
answered. " A fever may so waste the lamp of life that One ruder 
gust, of air could extinguish the flame, yet the sick man recovers. 
This sick man's existence has been one long fever ; this sick man 
can recover " 

" You will aid him to do so?" 

" Three days hence I will tell you." 

On the third day Grayle revisited Haroun, and, at Haroun's re- 
quest, Sir Philip came also. Grayle declared that he had already 
derived unspeakable relief from the remedies administered 
was lavish in expressions of gratitude : pressed large gifts on 
Haroun, and seemed pained when they were refused. This time, 
Haroun conversed freely, drawing forth Grayle's own irregular, 
perverted, stern:;,-, but powerful intellect. 

I can best convey the general nature of Grayle's share in the 
dialogue be: ween himself. Haroun and Derval — recorded in the 
narrative in words which 1 cannot trust my memory to repeat in 
detail — by stating the effect it produced on my own mind, it 
seemed, while I read, as if there passed before me some convul- 
sion of Nature — a storm, an earthquake. Outcries oi rage, of 
scorn, of despair ; a despot's vehemence of will; a rebels scoff 
at authority. Yet, ever and anon, some swe.l of lofty thought, 
some burst of passionate genius — abrupt variations from the vaunt 
of superb defiance to the wail of intense remorse. 

The whole had in il. I know UOl what, of uncouth bill colossal — 

like the cham. in the old lyrical tragedy, of one of those mythi- 
cal giants, who, proud of descent from Night and Chaos, had held 
sway over the elements, while still crude and conflicting, to bo 



15S A STRANGK STORY. 

crushed under the rocks, upheaved in their struggle, as Order and 
Harmony subjected a brightening Creation to the milder Influences 
personified and throned" in Olympus. But it was not till the ' 
later passages of the dialogue in which my interest was now ab- 
sorbed, that the language ascribed to this sinister personage lost a 
udoomy pathos, not the less impressive for the awe with which it 
was minted. For, till then, it seemed to me as if in that tempes- 
tuous nature there were still broken glimpses of starry light ; that 
a character originally lofty, if irregular and fierce, had been em- 
bittered by early and continuous war with the social world, and 
had, in that war, become maimed and distorted; that, under hap- 
pier circumstances, its fiery strength might have been disciplined 
to good ; that even now, where remorse was so evidently poig- 
nant, evil could not be irredeemably confirmed. 

At length all the dreamy compassion previously inspired van- 
ished in one unqualified abhorrence. 

The subjects discussed changed from those which, relating to 
the common world of men, were within the scope of my reason. 
Haroim led his wild guesl to boast of his own proficiency in ma 
and, despite my credulity, I could not overcome the shudder with 
which fictions/however extravagant, that deal with that dark Un- 
known abandoned to the chimeras of poets, will, at night and in 
solitude, send through the veins of men the least accessible to im- 
aginary terrors. 

Grayle spoke of the power he had exercised through the agency 
of evil' spirits — a power to fascinate and to destroy. He spoke of 
the aid revealed, to him, now too late, which such direful allies 
I afford, not only to a private revenge, but to a kingly ambi- 
tion. Had he acquired the knowledge he declared himself to pos- 
: before the feebleness of the decaying body made it valueless, 
how he could have triumphed over that world, which had expelled 
his youth from its pale ! He spoke of means by which his influ- 
ence could work undetected on the minds of others, control agen- 
cies that could never betray, defy laws that could never discover. 
He spoke vaguely of a power by which a spectral reflection of the 
material body could be cast, like a shadow, to a distance ; glide 
through the walls of a prison, elude the sentinels of a camp — a 
power that he asserted to be — when enforced by concentred will, 
and acting on the mind, where, in each individual, temptation 
found mind the weakest — almost infallible in its effect to seduce or 
to appal. And he closed these and similar boasts of demoniacal 
arts, which I remember too obscurely to repeat, with a tumultuous 
imprecation on their nothingness to avail against the gripe of 
death. All this lore he would communicate to Haroun, in return 
for what ? A boon shared by the meanest peasant — life, common 
life ; to breathe yet a while the air, feel yet a while the sun. 

Then Haroun replied. He said, witli a quiet disdain, that the 
dark art to which Grayle made such boastful pretence, was the 



A STRANGE STORY. 159 

meanest of all abuses of knowledge, rightly abandoned, in all ages, 
to the vilest natures. And then, suddenly changing his tunc, be 
spoke, so far as I can remember the words assigned to him in the 

manuscript, to this efl 

"Fallen and unhappy wretch, and you ask me for prolonged 
life ! — a prolonged curse to the world and to yourself. Shall I 
employ spells to lengthen the term of the Pestilence, or profane 
the secrets of Nature to restore vigor and youth to the failing 
energies of Crime . /-- 

Grayle, as if stunned by the rebuke, fell on his knees with de- 
spairing entreaties that strangely contrasted his previous arrogance. 
"And it was," lie said, "because his life had been evil that he 
dreaded death, [f life could be renewed lie would repent, he would 
change; he retracted his vaunts, he would forsake the arts he had 
boasted, he would reenter the world as its benefactor." 

"So ever the wicked man lies to himself when appalled b\ 
shadow of death," answered Haroun. " But know, by the remorse 
which preys on thy soul, that it is not thy soul that addresses this 
prayer to me. Oouldst thou hear, through the storms of the Mind, 
the Soul's melancholy whisper, it would dissuade thee from a wish 
to live on. While 1 speak 1 behold it, that son,! Sad for/the 
stains on its essence, awed by the account it must render, but 
dreading, as the direst calamity, a renewal of years below, — darker 
i f'aiiis and yet heavier accounts! Whatever the sentence it may 
undergo, it has a hope for mercy in the remorse which the mind 
vainly struggles to quell But darker its doom if longer retained 
to earth, yoked to the mind that corrupts it, and enslaved to the 
senses which thou bidst me to restore to their tyrannous forces." 

And Grayle bowed his head and covered his face with his hands 
in silence and in trembling. 

Then Sir Philip, seized with compassion, pleaded for him. "At 
least could not the soul have longer time on earth for repentence '■" 
And while Sir Philip was so pleading, Grayle fell prostrate in a 
swoon like that of death. When he. recovered, his head was lean- 
ing on Hamuli's knee, and his opening eyes iixed on the glittering 
phial which Haroun held, and from which his lips had 

moistened. 

" WonderOus ! " he murmured ; "how I feel life lowing back to 
me. And that, then, is the elixir! it is no fable! " 

His hands stretched greedily as to seize (he phial, and he cried, 

imploringly, " More, more ! " Haroun replaced the vessel in the 
folds of his robe and answer' 1 : 

"I will not renew thy youth, but T will release thee from bodily 
suffering; I will leave the mind and the soul free from the pangs 
of the flesh, to reconcile, if yet possible, their long war. My skill 
may afford thee months yet for repentance j seek, in that interval, 
to atone for the evil of sixty years; apply thy wealth where it 
may most compensate for injury done, most relieve the indigent, 



160 A STKANGE STORY. 

and most aid 1 he virtuous. Listen to thy remorse. Humble tby- 
serf in prayer." 

Grayle departed, sighing heavily, and muttering to himself. 

The next day Haroun summoned Sir Philip Derval and said to 
him : 

" Depart to Damascus. In that city the Pestilence has ap- 
peared. Go thither thou, to heal and to save. In this casket are 
stored the surest antidotes to the poison of the plague. Of that 
essence, undiluted and pure, which tempts to the undue prolonga- 
tion of soul in the prison of flesh, this casket contains not a drop. 
I curse not my friend with so mournful a boon. Thou hast learned 
enough of my art to know by what simples the health of the tem- 
perate is easily restored to its balance, and their path to the grave 
smoothed from pain. Not more should Man covej from Nature for 
the solace and weal of the body. Nobler gifts far than aught for 
the body this casket contains. Herein are tin- essences which 
quicken the life of those duplicate senses thai lie dormant and 
coiled in their chrysalis web, awaiting the wings <>i' a future de- 
velopment — the senses by which we can see. (hough not with the 
eye, and hej,w, hut not by the ear. Herein are links between Man's 
mind and Nature's ; are secrets n even than 

these — these extracts oflighl winch enable 
itself fron iscriminate fcual life, 

from life carnal than life intellectual. Where thou secst some 
noble intellect, studious of Nature, intent upon Truth, yet ignoring 
the fact that all animal life has a mind, and Man alone on the i 

i. and lias asked, from the b Earth 

>Ught the Heaven. ' Have I not a sold — can it perish .' ' 
—there, such aids to the soul, in the inn) - ion vouchsafed 

to the mind, thou mayst lawfully use. Bui aiued 

in this casket are like all which a mortal can win from the mines 
he explores ; — good or ill in their uses as they pass to the hands of 
the good or the evil. Thou wilt never confide them hut to those 
wiio will not abuse; and even then, thou art an adept loo versed 
in the mysteries of Nature not to discriminate between the powers 
that may serve the good to good ends, and the powers thai 
tempt the good — where less wise than experience has made thee and 
me — to the ends that are evil; and not even to thy friend, the 
most virtuous — if less proof against passion, than thou and I 
have become — wilt thou confide such contents of the casket as may 
work on the fancy, deafen the conscience, and imperil the soul." 

Sir Philip took the casket, and with it directians for use, which 
he did not detail. He then spoke to Haroun about Louis Gra 
who had inspired him with a mingled sentiment of admiration and 
abhorrence; of pity and terror. And Haroun answered. Repeat- 
ing, thus, the words ascribed to him, so far as I can trust, in re- 
gard to them — as to all else in this marvelous narrative — to a 
memory habitually tenacious even in ordinary matters, and strained 



A STBAlfOB bTuiiV. lol 

to the utmost extent of its power, by the strangeness ojF the ideas 
presented to it, and the intensity of my personal interesl in v. 
ever admitted a ray into thai eioud wnicb, gathering fast over my 

IB, now threatened storm to my affections' : 
" When the mortal deliberately allies himself to the spin 
evil, he surrenders the citadel of his being to the guard of its 6W - 
mies; and those who look from without can only dimly guess what 
passes within the precincts abandoned to Towers whose very na- 
ture-We shrink to contemplate, lest our mere gaze should invite 
them. This man. whom thou pitiest, is not yet everlastingly con- 
signed to the fiends ; because his soul still struggles against them. 
His life has been one long war between his intellect, which is mighty, 
and his spirit, which is feeble. The intellect, armed and winged by 
the passions, has besieged and oppressed the soul; but the soul 
has never ceased to repine and to repent. And at moments it lias 
gained its inherent ascendancy, persuaded revenge to drop the prey 
it had seized, turned the mind astray from hatred and wrath into 
unwonted paths of charity and love. In the long desert of guilt, 
there have been green spots and fountains of good. The fiends 
have occupied the intellect which invoked them, but they have 
never yet thoroughly mastered the soul which their presence ap- 
pals. In the struggle that now passes within that breast, amidst 
the flickers d' waning mortality, only Allah, whose eye I 
slumbers, can aid." 

Haroun continued, in words yel more strange and yet more 
deeply graved in my memory : 

"There have been men (thou mayst have known such), who, af- 
ter an illness in which life itself seemed suspended, have arisen, as 
out of a sleep, with characters wholly changed. Before, perhaps, 
le and good and truthful, they now become bitter, malignant, 
and false. To the persons and the things they had before loved, 
they evince repugnance and loathing. Sometimes this change isso 
marked and irrational, that their kindred ascribe it to madness. 
Not the madness which affects them in the ordinary business of 
life, but that which turns into harshness and discord the moral 
harmony that results from natures whole and complete. But then' 
are dervishes who hold that in that illness, which had for its time 
the likeness of death, the soul itself has passed away, and an evil 
genius has fixed itself into the body and the brain, thus left void of 
their former tenant, and animates them in the unaccountable 
change from the past to the present existence. Such mysteries 
have formed no part of my study, and 1 tell you the conjecture re- 
ceived in the East, without hazarding a comment whether cf in- 
credulity or belief. But if, in this war between the mind which the 
fiends have seized and the soul which implores refuse of Allah ; if, 
while the mind of yon traveler now covets life lengthened on earth 
for the enjbymentS it had perverted its faculties to seek and to find 
in sin, and covets so eagerly that it would shrink from no crime, 
11 



162 A STRANGE STORY. 

and revolt from no fiend that could promise the gift — the soul 
shudderingly implores to be saved from new guilt, andfvould 
rather abide by the judgment of Allah on the sins that have dark- 
ened it," than pass forever irredeemably away to the demons : if 
this be so, what if the soul's petition be heard — what if it rise from 
the ruins around it — what if the ruins be left to the witchcraft that 
seeks to rebuild them 1 There, if demons might enter, that which 
they sought as their prize has escaped them ; that which they find 
would mock them by its own incompleteness even in evil. In vain 
might animal life the most perfect be given to the machine of the 
flesh ; in vain might the mind, freed from the check of the soul, be 
left to roam at will through a brain stored with memories of knowl- 
edge and skilled in the command of its . faculties ; in vain, in ad- 
dition to all that body and brain bestow on .the normal condition of 
man, might unhallowed reminiscences gather all the arts and 
charms of the sorcery by which the fiends tempted the soul, before 
it fled, through the passions of flesh and the cravings of mind : 
the Thing, thus devoid of a soul, would be an instrument of evil, 
doubtless ; but an instrument that of itself could not design, in- 
vent and complete. The demons themselves could have no per- 
manent hold on the perishable materials. They might enter it for 
some gloomy end which Allah permits in his inscrutible wisdom ; 
but they could leave it no trace when they pass from it, because 
there is no conscience where soul is wanting, The human animal 
without soul, but otherwise made felicitously perfect in its mere 
vital organization, might ravage and destroy as the tiger and the 
serpent may destroy and ravage, and the moment after, would sport 
in the sunlight harmless and rejoicing, because, like the serpent 
and the tiger, it is incapable of remorse." 

" Why startle my wonder," said Derval, " with so fantastic an 
image?" 

" Because, possibly, the 'image may come into palpable form ! 
I know, while I speak to thee, that this miserable man is calling 
to his aid the evil sorcery over which he boasts his control. To 
gain the end he desires, he must pass through crime. Sorcery 
whispers to him how to pass through, it secure from the detection 
of man. The soul resists, but, in resisting, is weak against the 
tyranny of the mind to which it has submitted so long. Question 
me no more. But if I vanish from thine eyes, if thou hear that 
the death which, to my sorrow and in my foolishness I have failed 
to recognize as the merciful minister of Heaven, has removed me 
at last from the earth, believe that the Pale Visitant was wel- 
come, and that I humbly 'accept as a blessed release the lot of our 
common humanity." 

Sir Philip went to Damascus. There, he found the pestilence 
raging — there, he devoted himself to the cure of the afflicted ; in 
no single instance, so, at least, he declared, did the antidotes stored 
in the casket fail in their effect. The pestilence had passed ; his 



A STRANGE STORY. 163 

medicaments were exhausted j when the news reached him that 
Haroun was no more. The Sage bad been found one morning, 

lifeless in his solitary home, and, according to popular rumor, marks 
on his throat betrayed the murderous hand of the strangles Sim- 
ultaneously, Louis Grayle had disappeared from the city, and was 
supposed to have shared the fate of Haroun, and been Seci 
buried by the assasns who had deprived him of life. Sir Philip 
hastened to Aleppo. There, he ascertained that on the night in 
which Haroun died, Grayle did not disappear alone ; with him were 
also missing two of Ins numerous suite; the one an Aral) woman, 
named Ayesha. who had for some years heen Ins constant compan- 
ion, his pupil and associate in the mystic practices to which his 
intellect had heen debased, and who was said to have acquired a 
singular influence over him. partly by her beauty and partly by 
the tenderness with which she had nursed him through his long 
decline : the oilier, an Indian, specially assigned to her service, of 
whom all the wild retainers of Grayle spoke with detestation and 
tei ror. lie was believed by them to belong to that murderous sect 
of fanatics whose existence as a community has only recently been 
made known to Europe, and who strangle their dnsnspecting victim 
in the firm belief that they thereby propitiate the favor of the god- 
dess they serve. The current opinion at Aleppo was, that if these 
two persons had conspired to murder Haroun, perhaps for the sake 
of the treasures lie was said to possess, it was still more certain 
that they had made away with their own English Lord, whether 
for the sake of the jewels he wore about him, or for the sake of 
treasures less douhtful than those imputed to Haroun — and of 
which the hiding-place would to them be much better known. "I 
did not share that opinion," wrote the narrator; "fori assured 
myself that Ayesha sincerely loved her awful master; and that 
love need excite no wonder, for Louis Grayle was one whom if a 
woman, and especially a woman of the East, had once loved, before 
old age and infirmity fell on him, she would love and cherish still 
more devotedly when il became her task to protect the being who, 
in his day of power and command, had exalted his slave into the 
rank of ids pupil and companion. And the Indian whom Grayle 
had assigned to her service, was allowed to have that brute kind of 
fidelity which, though it recoils from no crime for a master, refuses 
all crime against him. 

" I came to the conclusion that Haroun had been murdered by 
order of Louis (irayle — for the sake of the elixir of life — murdered 
by .Luna, the Strangler; and that Grayle himself had been aided in 
his (light from Aleppo, and tended through the effects of the life- 
giving drug I bus murderously obtained, by the womanly love of 
the Arab woman. Ayesha. These convictions (since 1 could not — 
without being ridiculed as the wildest of dupes — even hinl at the 
vital elixir) I failed to impress on the Eastern officials, or even on 
a countryman of my own whom 1 chanced to find at Aleppo. 



L64 A STRANGE STORY. 

They only arrived at what seemed the common-sense verdict, 
namely, Haroun might have been strangled, or might have died in 
a fit (the body, little examined, was buried long before I came to 
Aleppo) ; Louis Grayle was murdered by his own treacherous de- 
pendents. But all trace of the fugitives was lost. 

" And now," wrote Sir Philip, " I will state by what means I 
discovered that Louis Grayle still lived — changed from age into 
youth ; a new form, a new being ; realizing, I verily believe, the 
image which Haroun's words had raised up, in what then seemed 
to me the metaphysics of phantasy ; criminal without consciousness 
of crime ; the dreadest of the mere animal race ; an incarnal ion of 
the blind powers of Nature — beautiful and joyous, wanton, and ter- 
rible, aod destroying! Such as ancient myths have personified in 
the idols of Oriental creeds ; such as Nature, of herself, might 
form man in her moments of favor, if man were wholly the animal. 
and spirit were no longer the essential distinction between himself 
and the races to which by superior formation and subtler percep- 
tions he would still be the king. 

" But this being is yet more dire and potentous than the mere 
animal man, for in him are not only the fragmentary memories of 
a pristine intelligence which no mind, unaided by the presence of 
soul, could have originally compassed, but amidst that intelligence 
are the secrets of the magic which is learned through the agencies 
of spirits, to our race the most hostile. And who shall say whether 
the fiends do not enter at their will this void and desterted temple 
whence the soul has departed, and use as their tools, passive and 
unconscious, all the faculties which, skilful in sorcery, still place 
a Mind at the control of their malice \ 

" It was in the interest excited in me by the strange and terrible 
fate that befel an Armenian family with Which I was slightly ac- 
quainted, that I first traced, in the creature I am now about to 
describe, and whose course I devote myself to watch and trust to 
bring to a close — the murderer of Haroun for the sake of the elixir 
of youth. 

" In this Armenian family, there were three daughters ; one of 
them " 

I had just read thus far, when a dim Shadow fell over the page, 
and a cold air seemed to breathe on me. Cold — so cold, that my 
blood halted in my veins as if suddenly frozen ! Involuntarily I 
started and looked up, sure that some ghastly presence was in the 
room. And then, on the opposite side of the wall, I beheld an un- 
substantial likeness of a human form. Shadow I call it, but the 
word is not strictly correct, for it was luminous, though with a 
pale shine. In some exhibition in London there is shown a curious 
instance of optical illusion ; at the end of a corridor you see, appa- 
rently in strong light, a human skull. You are convinced it is 
there as you approach ; it is, however, only a reflection from a 
skull at a distance. The image before me was less vivid, less 



A STRANGE STORY. 165 

seemingly prominent than is the illusion I speak of. I was not 
deceived. I felt it was a spectrum, a phantasm, bat I felt no less 
surely that it was a reflection from an animate form — the form and 
the face of Margrave; it was there, distinct, unmistakable. Con- 
ceiving that he himself must be behind me. I sought to rise, to turn 
round, to examine. I could not move : limb and muscle were 
over-mastered by some incomprehensible spell. Gradual y my 
senses forsook me, I became unconscious as well as motionless. 
When I recovered. I heard the clock strike three. I must have 
been nearly two hours insensible ; the candles before me were burn- 
ing low ; my eyes rested on the table ; the dead man's manuscript 
was gone ! 



CHAPTER XL. 



The dead man's manuscript was gone. But how? A phantom 
might delude my eye. a human will, though exerted at a distance, 
might, if the tales of mesmerism be true, deprive me of movement 
and of consciousness; but neither phantom nor mesmeric will could 
surely remove from the table before me the material substance of 
the book that had vanished ! Was I to seek explanation in the 
arts of sorcery ascribed to Louis Grayle in the narrative ? — I would 
not pursue that conjecture. Against it my reason rose up half 
alarmed, half disdainful. Some one must have entered the room — 
some one have re coved the manuscript. I looked round. The 
windows were closed, the curtains partially drawn over the shut- 
icrs, as they were before my consciousness had left me ; all seemed 
undisturbed. Snatching up one of the candles, fast dying out, I 
went into the adjoining library, the desolate slate-rooms, into the 
entrance-hall and examined the outer door. Barred and locked ! 
The robber had left no vestige of his stealthy presence. 

I resolved to go at once to Strahan's room, and tell him of the 
loss sustained. A deposit had been confided to me, and I felt as if 
there Were a slur on my honor every moment in which I kept is 
abstraction concealed from him to whom I was responsible for the 
trust. I hastily ascended the great staircase, grim with faded 
portraits, and found myself in a long corridor opening on my own 
bed-room ; no doubt also on Strahan's. Which was his ? I knew 
not. I opened rapidly, door after door, peered into empty cham- 
bers, went blundering on, when, to the right, down a narrow pas- 
sage, 1 recognized the signs of my host's whereabout — signs fami- 
liarly c immcnplace and vulgar, signs by which the inmate of any 
chamber in lodging-house or inn makes himself known — a chair 
before a doorway, clothes negligently thrown ou it, beside it a pair 



166 ' A STRANGE STORY. 

of shoes. And so ludicrous did such testimony of common every- 
day life, of the habits which Strahan would necessarily hay^e con- 
tracted in his desultory unluxurious bachelor's existence — so lu- 
dicrous, I say, did these homely details seem to me, sogro esque- 
ly at variance with the wonders of which I had been reading, with 
the wonders yet more incredible of which I myself had been wit- 
ness and victim, that, as I turned down the passage, I heard my 
own unconscious half-hysterical laugh ; and, startled by the sound 
of that laugh as if it came from some one, else, I paused, my hand 
on the door, and asked myself; "Do I dream 1 Am I awake ? 
And if awake, what am I to say to the commonplace mortal I am 
about to rouse? Speak to him of a phantom ! Speak to him of 
some weird spell over this strong frame ! Speak to him of a mys- 
tic trance in which has been stolen what he confided to me, with- 
out my knowledge ! What will he say ? What should I have 
said a week since to any man who told such a tale to me ? " I did 
not wait to resolve these questions. I entered the room. There 
was Strahan sound asleep on his bed. I shook him roughly. He 
started up, rubbed his eyes — " You, Allen — you ! What the 
deuce 1 — what's the matter 1 " 

" Strahan, I have been robbed ! — robbed of the manuscript yo 
lent me. I could not rest, till I had told you." 

" Robbed, robbed ! Are you serious ! " 

By this time St^ihan had thrown off the bed-clothes, and sat, 
upright, staring at me. 

And then those questions which my mind had suggested while I 
was standing at his door, repeated themselves with double force 
Tell this man, this unimaginative, hard-headed, raw-boned, sandy- 
haired North countryman — tell this man a story which the most 
credulous schooi-girl would have rejected as a fable ! Impossible. 

" I fell asleep," said I, coloring and stammering, for the slight- 
est deviation from truth was painful to me, "and — and — when I 
woke — the manuscript was gone. Some one must have entered, 
and committed the theft " 

" Some one entered the house at this hour of the night, and then 
only steal a manuscript which could be of no value to him ! 
Absurd ! If thieves have come in, it must be for other objects — 
for plate, for money. I will dress : we will see ! " 

Strahan hurried on his clothes, muttering to himself, and avoid- 
ing my eye. He was embarrassed. He did not like to say to an 
old friend what was on his mind, but. I saw at once that he sus- 
pected I had resolved to deprive him of the manuscript, and in- 
vented a wild tale in order to conceal my own dishonesty. 

Nevertheless, he proceeded to search the house. I followed 
him in silence, oppressed with my own thoughts, and longing for 
solitude in my own chamber. We found nrj one, no trace of any 
one, nothing to excite suspicion. There were but two female ser- 
vants sleeping in the house — the old housekeeper, and a country 



A STRANGE STORY. 167 

girl who assisted her. It wa^ uot possible to suspect either of 
these persons, but in the course of our search we opened the doors 

of their rooms. We saw that they weir both in bed, both seem- 
lingly asleep ; it seemed idle to wake and question them. When 
the formality of our futile investigation was concluded, Stratum 
stopped at the door of my bed-room, and for the first time fixing 
his eyes on me steadily, said : 

"Allen Fenwiok, 1 would have given half the fortune I have 
come into rather than this had happened. The Manuscript, as 
you know, was bequeathed to mi' as a sacred trust by a benefac- 
tor whose slightest wish it is my duty to observe religiously. If 
it contained aught valuable to a man of your knowledge and pro- 
fession — why, you were free to use its contents. Let me hope. 
Allen, that the hook will reappear to-morrow." 

lie said no more, drew himself away from the hand I volunta- 
rily extended, and walked quickly back towards his own room." 

Alone (Mice more, I sank on a seat, buried my face in my hands, 
and strove in vain to collect in some definite shape my own tumul- 
tuous and disordered thoughts. Could I attach serious credit to 
the marvelous narrative 1 had read I Were there, indeed, such 
powers given to man.' such influences latent in the calm routine 
of Nature / 1 could not believe it; I must have some morbid af- 
fection of the brain; I must be under an hallucination. Hallu- 
cination? The phantom, yes — the trance, yes. But, still, how 
came the book gone? That, at least, was not hallucination. 

I left my room the next morning, with a vague hope that I should 
find the manuscript somewhere in the study ; that, in my own 
trance, I might have secreted it, as sleep-walkers are said to se- 
crete things, without remembrance of their acts in their waking 
stale. 

I searched minutely in every conceivable place. Strahan found 
me still employed in that hopeless task. He had breakfasted in 
his own room, and it was past eleven o'clock when he joined me. 
His manner was now hard, cold, ami distant, and his suspicion so 
bluntly shown that my distress gave way to resentment. 

" Is it possible," I cried, indignantly, " that you who have 
known me so well can suspect me of an act so base, and so gratu- 
itously base ? Purloin, conceal a book confided to me, with full 
power to copy from it whatever I might desire, use its contents in 
any way that might seem to me serviceable to science, or useful to 
me in my own calling!" 

" I have not accused you," answered Strahan, sullenly. " But 
what arc we to say to Mr. Jeeves* to all others who know that 
this manuscript existed i Will they believe what you tell me 1 " 

" Mr. Jeeves," I said, " cannot suspect a fellow-townsman, whose 
character is as high as mine, of untruth and theft. And to whom 
else have you conimunicaied the facts connected with a memoir 
and a request of so extraordinary a nature 1 " 



168 A STRANGE STORY. 

" To young Margrave ; I told you so !" 

" True, true. We need not go further to find the thief. Mar- 
grave has been in this house more than once. He knows the po- 
sition of the rooms. You have named the robber !" 

"Tut! what on earth could a gay young fellow like Margrave 
want with a work of such dry and recondite nature, as I presume 
my poor kinsman's memoir must be ]" 

I was about to answer, when the door was abruptly opened, and 
the servant girl entered, followed by two men, in whom I recog- 
nized the superintendent of the L police, and the same subor- 
dinate who had found me by Sir Philip's corpse. 

The superintendent came up to me with a grave face, and whis- 
pered in my ear. I did not at first comprehend him. " Come with 
you," I said, " and to Mr. Vigors, the magistrate 1 I thought my 
deposition was closed." 

The superintendent shook his head. " I have the authority here, 
Dr. Fen wick." 

" Well, I will come, of course. Has anything new transpired V' 

The superintendent turned to the servant girl, who was standing 
with gaping mouth and staring eyes. "Show us Dr. Fen wick's 
room. You had better put up, sir, whatever things you have brought 
here. I will go up stairs with you," he whispered again. " Come, 
Dr. Fenwiek, I am in the discharge of my duty." 

Something in the man's manner was so sinister and menacing 
that 1 felr, at once, that some new and si range calamity had lie- 
fallen me. I turned towards Strahan. He was at the threshold, 
speaking in a low voice to the subordinate policeman, and there 
was an expression of amazement and horror in his countenance. 
As I came toward him, he darted away without a word. 

I went up the stairs, entered my bed-room, the superintendent 
close behind me. As I took up mechanically the few things I had 
brought with me, the poiice-ofiicer drew them from me with an ab- 
ruptness that appeared insolent, and deliberately searched the 
pockets of the coat which I had worn the evening before, then 
opened the drawers in the room, and even pried into the bed. 

"What do you mean l " I asked, haughtily. 

" Excuse me sir. Duty. You are " 

" Well, I am what ? " . 

"My prisoner; here is the warrant," 

" Warrant ! on what charge 1 " 

"The murder of Sir Philip Derval." 

" I — I ! Murder ! " I could say no more. 

I must hurry over this awful' passage in my marvelous record. 
It is torture to dwell on the details, and indeed I have so sought 
to chase them from my recollection, that they only come back to 
me in hideous fragments, like the broken, incoherent remains of a 
horrible dream. 

All that I need state is as follows : Early on the very morning 



A STRANGE STORY. 169 

on which I had been arrested, a man, a stranger in the town, had 
privately sought Mr. Vigors, and deposed that, on the nighl of the 
murder, he had been taking refuge fronia sudden storm undersbel- 
ter of the eaves and buttresses of a wall adjoining an old arch-way ; 
that he had heard men talking within the arch-way ; had heard 
one say to the other, " You still hear mo a grudge/' The other 
had replied, " I can forgive you on one condition." That he then 
lost much of the conversation that ensued, which was in a lower 
voice; hut be gathered enough to know that the condition demanded 
by the one was the* possession of a casket which the other carried 
about with him. That there seemed an altercation on this mat 
between the two men. which, tit judge by the tone of voice, was 
j on the part of the man demanding the casket ; that, finally, 
this man said, in a loud key, " Do you still refuse .' " and on re- 
ceiving the answer, which the witness did not overhear, exclaimed, 
threateningly, " If is you who will repent ;" and then stepped forth 
from the arch into the street. The rain had then ceased, hut, by 
a, broad dash of lightning, the witness saw distinctly the fij 
of the person thus quitting the shelter of the arch ; a man of tali 
stat ure. powerful frame, erect carriage: A little time afterwards, 
witness saw a slighter and older man come from the 1 arch, whom 
lie could only examine by the dickering ray of the gas ramp near 
the wall, the lightning having ceased, hut whom he fully be- 
lieved to be the person he afterwards discovered to he Sir Philip 
Derval. 

lie said that lie himself had only arrived at the town a. few 
hours before; a stranger to L , and indeed to England ; hav- 
ing come from the United Stales of America, where he passed 

his life from childhood, lie had journeyed on foot to L , in 

the hope of finding there some distant relatives. He had put ap 
at a small inn, after which he had strolled through the town, when 
the storm had driven him to seek shelter. He had then failed to 
find his way hack to the inn, and after wandering about in vain, 
and seeing no one at that late hour of night of whom he could 
ask the way, he had crept under a portico and slept for two or 
three hours. Waking towards the dawn, he bad then got up, and 
again sought to find his way to the inn, when he saw in a. narrow 
street before him two men, one of whom lie recognized as the 
taller of the two, to whose conversation he had listened under the 
arch, the other he did not recognize at the moment. The taller 
man seemed angry and agitated, and he heard him say, " The 
casket; I will have, it." There ihen seemed a struggle between 
these two persons, when the taller one struck down the shorter, 
knelt on his breast, and he caught distinctly the gleam of some 
steel instrument. That he was so frightened that he could not 
stir from the place, and that though he cried out. he believed Ids 
voice was not heard, 'lie then saw the taller man rise, the other 
testing on the pavement motionless, and a minute or so afterwards 



170 A STRANGE STORY. 

beheld policemen coming to the place, on which he, the witness, 
walked away. He did not know that a murder had been commit- 
ted ; it might be only an assault ; it was no business of his, he 
was a stranger. He thought it best not to interfere, the police- 
men havii;g cognizance of the affair. He found out his inn ; for 

the next few days he was, however, absent from L in search 

of his relations who had left the town, many years ago, to fix their 
residence in one of the neighboring villages. 

He was, however, disappointed, none of these relations now 

survived. He had returned to L , heard of the murder, was 

in doubt what to do, might get himself into trouble if, a mere 
stranger, he gave an unsupported testimony. But, on the day be- 
fore the evidence was volunteered, as he was lounging in the 
streets, he had seen a gentleman pass by on horseback, in whom 
he immediately recognized the man who, in his belief, was the mur- 
derer of Sir Philip Derval. He inquired of a bystander the name 
of the gentleman, the answer was, "Dr. Fenwick." That, the rest 
of the day, he felt much disturbed in his mind, not liking to volun- 
teer such a charge against a man of apparent respectability and 
station. But that his conscience would not let him sleep that 
night, and he had resolved at morning to go to a magistrate and 
make a elean breast of it. 

This story was in itself so improbable that any other magis- 
trate but Mr. Vigors would, perhaps, have dismissed it in con- 
tempt. But Mr. Vigors, already so bitterly prejudiced against, me, 
and not sorry, perhaps, to subject me to the humiliation of so hor- 
rible a charge, immediately issued his warrant to search my 
house. 1 was absent at Derval Court ; the house was searched. 
In the bureau in my favorite study, which was left, unlocked, the 
steel casket was discovered, and a large case-knife, ou the blade 
of which the stains of blood were si ill perceptible. On this dis- 
covery I was apprehended) and on these evidences, and on the de- 
position of this vagrant stranger, 1 was, not, indeed committed to 
take my trial for murder, bur placed in confinement; all bail for 
my appearance refused, and the examination adjourned to give 
time for further evidence and inquiries. I had requested the pro- 
fessional aid of Mr. Jeew^. To my surprise and dismay Mr. 
Jeeves begged me to excuse him. He said he was preengaged by 
Mr. Strahan to detect and prosecute rhe murderer of Sir P. 
Derval, and could not assist one accused of the murder. I 
gathered from the little he said that Strahan had already been to 
him that morning and told him of the missing manuscript — that 
Strahan had ceased to be my friend. I engaged another solicitor, 
a young man of ability, and who professed personal esteem for 
me. Mr. Stanton .(such was the lawyer's name) believed in my 
innocence ; but he warned n>e that appearances were grave, he 
implored me to be perfectly frank with him. Had I held conver- 
sation with Sir Philip under the archway as reported by the wit- 



A STRANGE STORY. 171 

ness 1 Had I used such or similar words ? Had the deceased 
said, "I had a gradge against him r" Had I demanded the 
ket? Had I threatened Sir Philip that he would repent? And 
of what ? His refusal ? 

I felt myself grow pale as I answered, "Yes, I thought such 
or similar expressions had occurred in my conversation with the 
deceased." 

" What, was the reason of the grudge 1 What was the oat 
of this casket, thai I Should so desire its possession \" 

There, I became terribly embarrassed. What, could I Bay to 
a keen, sensible; worldly man of law.' Tell liini of the powder 
and the fume, of the scene in the museum, of Sir Philip's tale, of 
the implied identity of the youthful Margrave with the aged 
(irayle. of the elixir of life, and of magic arts I I — 1 tell such a 
romance! I, the noted adversary of all pretended mysticism ! — 
I — I — a sceptical practitioner of medicine ! Had that manuscript 
of Sir Philip's been available — a substantia] record of marvelous 
events by a man of repute for intellect and learning — I might, 

perhaps, have ventured to startle the solicitor of L witli my 

revelations. But the sole proof that all which the solicitor urged 
me to confide was not a monstrous fiction or an insane delusion. 
had disappeared; and its disappearance was a part of the terrible 
mystery that enveloped the whole. 1 answered, therefore, as oom- 
posedly as 1 could, that " I could h'ave no serious grudge against 
Sir Philip, whom I had never seen before that evening ; that the 
words which applied to my supposed grudge, were lightly said by 
Sir Philip in reference In a physiological dispute on matters con- 
nected with mesmerical phenomena ; that the deceased had de- 
clared his casket, which he had shown to me at the mayor's house, 
contained drugs of great potency in medicine; that 1 had asked 
permission to I drugs myself; and that when I said he 

would repent of his refusal, I merely meant that he would repent 
of reliance on drugs no! warranted by the experiments of pro- 
fessional science." 

My replies seemed to satisfy the lawyer so far, hut " How could 
I account for the casket and the knife being found in my room ? " 

"In no way but this; the window of that room was a door- 
window opening on the lane, from which any one might enter it, — 
I was in the habit, not only of going oul myself that way, but of 
admitting through that door any more familiar private acquain- 
tance." 

" Whom, for instance ? " 

I hesitated a moment, and then said, with a significance 1 oould 
not. forbear, " Mr. Margrave ! He would know the locale per- 
fectly : he would know that the door was rarely bolted from within 
during the daytime: hfe could enter at all hours; he could place, 
or instruct any one to deposii, the knife and casket in my bureau. 
which he knew 1 never kept Looked ; it contained no secrets, no 



172 A STRANGE STORY. 

private correspondence — chiefly surgical implements, or such 
things as I might want for professional experiments." 

" Mr. Margrave ! But you cannot suspect him — a lively, charm- 
ing young man, against whose character not a whisper was ever 
heard — of connivance with such a charge against you ; a conni- 
vance that would implicate him in the murder itself, for if you are 
accused wrongfully, he who accuses you is either the criminal or 
the criminal's accomplice ; his instigator or his tool." 

" Mr. Stanton," I said firmly, after a moment's pause, " I do 
suspect Mr. Margrave of a hand in this crime. Sir Philip, on see- 
ing him at the mayor's house, expressed a strong abhorrence of 
him, more than hinted at crimes he had committed ; appointed me 
to come to Derval Court the day after that on which the murder 
was committed. Sir Philip had known something of this Mar- 
grave in the East — Margrave might dread exposure, revelations — 
of what I know not ; but, strange as it may seem to you, it is my 
conviction, that this young man, apparently so gay and so thought- 
less, is the real criminal, and in some way, which I cannot con- 
jecture, has employed this lying vagabond in the fabrication of a 
charge against myself. Reflect : of Mr. Margrave's antecedents 
we know nothing ; of them nothing was known even by the young 
gentleman who first introduced him to the society of this town. 
It you would serve and save me, it, is to that quarter that you will 
direct your vigilant and unrelaxing researches." 

I had scarcely so said when I repented my candor ; for I ob- 
served in the face of Mr. Stanton a sudden revulsion of feeling, an 
utter incredulity of the accusation I had thus hazarded, and for the 
first time a doubt of my own innocence. The fascination exercised 
by Margrave was universal ; nor was it to be wondered at; for 
besides the charm of his joyous presence, he seemed so singularlv 
free from even the errors common enough with the young. So 
gay and boon a companion, yet a shunner of wine ; so dazzling in 
aspect, so more than beautiful, so courted, so idolized by women, 
yet no tale of seduction, of profligacy, attached to his name ! As 
to his antecedents, he had so frankly owned himself a natural son, 
a nobody, a traveler, an idler ; his expenses, though lavish, were 
so unostentatious, so regularly defrayed. He was so wholly the re- 
verse of the character assigned to criminals, that it seemed as ab- 
surd to bring a charge of homicide against a butterfly or a gold- 
finch as against mis seemingly innocent and delightful favorite of 
humanity and nature. 

However, Mr. Stanton said little or nothing, and shortly after- 
wards left me, with a dry expression of hope that my innocence 
would be cleared in spite of evidence that, he was bound to say, 
was of the most serious character. 

I was exhausted. I fell into a profound sleep early that night ; 
it might be a little after twelve when I woke, and woke as fully, as 
completely, as much restored to life and consciousness, as it was 



A STRANGE STORY. 173 

then my habit to be at the break of day. And, so waking, I saw 
on the wall, opposite my bed, the same luminous phantotn I bad 
seen in the wizard's study at Derval Court. 1 have read in 
Scandinavian legends of an apparition called the Sciff-Lffica, or 
shining corpse. It is supposed, in the northern superstition, some- 
times to haunt sepulchres, sometimes to foretell doom. It is the 
spectre of a human body seen in a phosphoric light. And so 
exactly did this phantom correspond to the description of such an 
apparition in Scandinavian fable, thai I know not how to give it a 
better name than thai of Scin-Lseea — the shining corpse. 

There it was before me. corpse-like, yet nol (lead; there, as in 
the haunted study of the wizard Forman ! — the form and the face 
of Margrave. Constitutionally, my nerves are strong, and my 
temper hardy, and now I was resolved to battle against any im- 
pression which my senses might receive from my own deluding fan- 
cies. Things that witnessed for the first nine daunt us, witnessed 
for the second time lose their terror. 1 rose from my bed with a bold 
aspect, I approached the phantom with a firm step ; but when with- 
in two paces of it, and my hand outstretched to touch it, my arm 
became fixed in air, my feel locked to the ground. 1 did hot ex- 
perience fear; i felt that my heart beat regularly, but an invinci- 
ble something opposed itself to me. 1 stood as if turned to stone, 
and then from the lips of this phantom there came a voice, but a 
voice which seemed borne from a great distance — very low. mutlled, 
and yet distinct : I could not even lie sure that my ear heard it, or 
whether the sound was not conveyed to me by an inner sense. 

" 1, and 1 alone, can save and deliver you, - ' said the voice. "1 
will do so, ami the conditions I ask, in return, are simple and 
easy." 

"Fiend, or spectre, or mere delusion of my own brain," cried 1, 
"there can be no compact between thee ami me. 1 despise thy 
malice, I reject thy services ; I accept no conditions to escape 
from the one or to obtain the other." 

"You may give a different answer when I ask again." 

The Scin-Laeca slowly waned, and, fading first into a wan shad- 
ow, then vanished. I rejoiced at the reply 1 had given. Two days 
elapsed before Mr. Stanton again came to me; in the interval the 
Scin-Laeca did not reappear. I had mustered all my courage, all 
my common sense, noted down all' the weak points of the false ev- 
idence against me, and felt calm and supported by the strength of 
my innocence. 

The first few words of the solicitor dashed all my courage to 
the ground. For I was anxious to hear news of Lilian, anxious to 
have some message from her that might cheer and strengthen me, 
and my first question was this : 

"Mr. Stanton, yon are aware that I am engaged in marriage to 
Miss Ashleigh. Your family are uot unacquainted with her. What 



174 A STRANGE STORY. 

says, what thinks she of this monstrous charge against her be- 
trothed 1" 

" I was for two hours at Mrs. Ashleigb's house last evening," 
replied the lawyer ; " she was naturally anxious to see me as em- 
ployed in your defence. Who do you think was there? Who 
eager to defend you, to express his persuasion of your innocence, 
to declare his conviction that the real criminal would be soon dis- 
covered — who but that same Mr. Margrave, whom, pardon my 
frankness, you so rashly and groundlessly suspected." 

"Heavens! Do you say that he is received in that house? 
that he — he is familiarly admitted to her presence ?" 

" My good sir, why these unjust prepossessions against a, true 
friend, it was as your friend that, as soon as the charge against 

you amazed and shucked the town ii L , Mr. Margrave called 

on Mrs. Ashleigh — presented bo her by Miss liraba/.on — and was 

so cheering ami hopeful that -" 

" Enough !" I exclaimed — " enough !" 

] paced the room in a state of excitement and rage, which the 
lawyer in vain endeavored to calm, until at length I halted abrupt- 
ly : " Well — and you saw Miss Ashleigh ? What message does 
she send to me — her betrothed )" 

Mr. Stanton looked confused. "Message! Consider, sir — Miss 

Ashleigh's situation — the delicacy — and — and " 

" I understand ! no message, nn word, from a young lady so re- 
spectable to a man accused of murder." 

Mr. Stanton was silent for some moments ; anil then said quh 
" Le! lis change this subject ; let us think of what more immedi- 
ately presses. J sec you have been making some notes; may I 

look at them " 

1 composed myself and sat down. "This accuser! have in- 
quiries really been made as to himself, and his statement of ids 
own proceedings? lie comes, he says, from America — in what, 
ship ? At what port did he land I I* there any evidence to cor- 
roborate his story of the relations he tried to discover — of the inn 
at which he first put up, and to which he could not find his w; 

•' Your suggestions are sensible, Dr. Fenwick. I have forestalled 
them. It is true that the man lodged at a small inn — the Rising 
Sun — true that he made inquiries about some relations of the name 

of Walls, who formerly resided at L , and afterwards removed 

to a village ten miles distant — two brothers — tradesmen, of small 
means, but respectable character. He at first refused to say at 
what seaport he landed, in wdiat ship he sailed. 1 suspect that he 
has now told a falsehood as to these matters. I have sent my 
clerk to Southampton — for it is there he said that he was put on 
shore ; we shall see — the man himself is detained in close custody. 
I hear that his manner is strange and excitable ; but he preserves 
silence as much as possible. It is generally believed that lie is a 
bad character, perhaps a returned convict, and that this is the true 



A STRANGE STORY. 175 

reason why he so long delayed givipg evidence, and has been sinee 
so reluctant to account for himself, But even if his testimony 
should be impugned, should break down, still we should have to 
account for the fact that the casket and the casedndfe were found 
in your bureau. For, granting thai a person could, in your ab- 
sence, have entered your study and placed the articles in your 
bureau, it is clear that sueh a person musi have been well ac- 
quainted with your house, and this stranger to L could nol 

have possessed that knowledge." 

" Of course not — Mr. Margrave did possess it !" 

"Mr. Margrave again! — oh. sir." 

I arose and moved away with an impatient gesture. I could 
not trust myself to speak. That night 1 did not sleep ; I watched 
impatiently, gazing on the opposite wall, for the gleam of the BcM- 
Leea. But the night passed away, and the spectre did not appear. 



CHATTEL XII. 



The lawyer came the next day, and almost with a smile on his 
lips. He brought me a few lines in pencil from Mrs. Ashleigh ; 
they were kindly expressed, bade me of good cheer ; "she never 
for a moment believed in my guilt; Lilian bore up wonderfully 
under so terrible a trial ; it was an unspeakable comfort to both to 
receive the visits of a friend so attached to me and so confident of 
a triumphant refutation of the hideous calumny — under which I 
now suffered — as Mr. Margrave ! " 

The lawyer had seen Margrave again — seen him in that house. 
Margrave seemed almost domiciled there! 

I remained sullen and taciturn during this visit. I longed again 
for the night. Night came. 1 heard the distant clock strike 
twelve, when again the icy wind passed through my hair, and 
against the wall stood the Luminous Shadow. 

'• Have you considered / " whispered the voice, still as from afar. 
" I repeat it — I alone can save you." 

" Is it among the conditions which you ask, in return, that I shall 
resign to you the woman I love I " 

"No." 

" Is it one^of the conditions that I should commit some crime — 
a crime perhaps heinous as that of which 1 am accused?" 

" No." 

" With such reservations I accept the conditions you may name, 
provided I, in my turn, may demand one condition from .yourself." 

" Name it." 



176 A STRANGE STORY. 

" I ask you to quit this town. I ask you, meanwhile, to cease 
your visits to the house that holds the woman betrothed to me." 

" I will cease those visits. And before many days are over, I 
will quit this town." 

" Now, then, say what yon ask from me. I am prepared to con- 
cede it. And not from fear for myself, but because I fear for the 
pure and innocent being who is under the spell of your deadly fas- 
cination. This is your power over me. You command me through 
my love for another. Speak." 

" My conditions are simple. You will pledge yourself to desist 
from all charge or insinuation against myself, of what nature so- 
ever. You will not, when you nleet me in the flesh, refer to what 
you have known of my likeness in the Shadow. You will be in- 
vited to the house at which I may be also a guest; you will come; 
you will meet and converse with .me as guest speaks with guest in 
the house of a host." 

" Is that all ?" 

" It is all." 

" Then 1 pledge you my faith ; keep your own." 

" Fear not ; sleep secure in the certainty that you will soon be 
released from these walls." . 

The Shadow waned and faded. Darkness settled back, and a 
sleep, profound and calm, fell over me. 

Tue next day Mr. Stanton again visited me. He had received 
that morning a note from Mr Margrave, stating that he had left 

T to pursue, in person, an investigation which he had already 

commenced through another, affecting the man who had given evi- 
dence against me, and that, if his hope should prove Well founded, 
he trusted to establish my innocence, and convict the real murder- 
er of Sir Philip Derval. In the research he thus volunteered, he 
had asked for, and obtained, the assistance of the policeman Waby, 
who, grateful to me for saving the life of his sister, had expressed 
a strong desire to be employed in my service. 

Meanwhile, my most cruel assailant was my old college friend, 
Richard Strahan. For Jeeves had spread abroad Strahan's charge 
of purloining the memoir which had been' inirusted to. me; and 
that accusation had done me great injury in public opinion, because 
it seemed to give probability to the only motive which ingenuity 
could ascribe to the foul deed imputed to me. That motive had 
been first suggested by Mrs. Vigors. Cases are on record of men 
whose life had been previously blameless, who have committed a 
crime, which seemed to belie their nature, in the monomania of 
some intense desire. In Spain, a scholar reputed of austere morals, 
murdered and robbed a traveler for money in order to purchase 
books ; books written, too, by Fathers of his Church ! He was in- 
tent on solving some problem of theological casuistry. In France, 
an antiquarian esteemed not more for his learning, than for amiable 
and gentle qualities, murdered his most intimate friend for the pos- 



A STRANGE STORY. 177 

session of a medal, without which his own collection was incom- 
plete. These, ami similar anecdotes, lending to prove how fatally 
any vehement desire, morbidly cherished, may suspend the normal 
operations of reason and conscience, were whispered about by Dr. 
Llo\ d's vindiclive partisan, and the inference drawn from them and 
applied to the assumptions against myself, was the mure credu- 
lously received, because of that over-refining speculation on motive 
and ael which the shallow accept, in their eagerness to show how 
readily (hey understand the profound 

[ was known to he fond of scientific, especially of chemical ex- 
periments; to he eager in testing the truth of any novel invention. 
Strahan, catching hold of the magistrate's fantastic hypothesis, 
went about repeating anecdotes of the absorbing passion for analy- 
sis and discovery which bad characterized me in youth as a medi- 
cal student, and to which, indeed, I owed the precocious reputation 
I had acquired. 

Sir Philip Derval, according not only to report, hut according to 
the direct testimony of his servant, had acquired in his travels 
many secrets in natural science, especially as connected with the 
healing art — his servant had deposed to the remarkable cures he 
4iad effected by the medicinals stored in the stolen casket — doubt- 
less Sir Philip, in boasting of these medicinals in the course of our 
conversation, had excited my curiosity, influenced my imagination, 
and thus, when 1 afterwards suddenly met him in a lone spot, a 
passi | ilse bad acted on a brain heated into madness by 

curiosity and covetous desire. 

All these suppositions, reduced into system, were 'corroborated 
• irahan's charge that 1 had made away with the manuscript 
supposed u> contain the explanations of the medical agencies em- 
ployed by Sir Philip, and bad sought to shelter my theft by a tale 
so improbable, that a man of my reputed talent could no1 have 
hazarded it if in his sound senses. I saw the web that had thus 
been spread round me. by hostile prepossessions and ignorant gos- 
sip : how could the arts of Margrave scatter that web to the winds? 
1 knew not. but I felt confidence in his promise and his power. 
Still, so great had been my alarm for Lilian, that the hope ol clear- 
ing my own innocence was almost lost in my joy thai Margrave, 
at least, was no longer in her presence, and that I had received his 
pledge to quil the town in which she lived. 

. hours rolled on hours, till, I think, on the third day from 
that night in which 1 had last beheld the mysterious Shadow, my 
door was hastily thrown open, a confused crowd presented itself at 
the threshold — the governor of the prison, tin- police superintend- 
ent, Mr. Stanton, and other familiar faces shut out from me i 
my imprisonment 1 Knew at the first glance that I was no lo 
an outlaw beyond the pale of human friendship. And proudly, 
sternly, as I had supported myself hitherto in solitude and anxi 
when ] felt warm hands clasping mine, heard joyous voices proffer- 
12 



178 A STRANGE STORY. 

ing congratulations, saw in the eyes of all that my innocence had 
been cleared, the revulsion of emotion was loo strong for me — the 
room reeled on my sight — I fainted. 1 pass, as quickly as I cam 
over the explanations that crowded on me when 1 recovered, mid 
that were publicly given in evidence in Court next morning. I 
had owed all to Margrave. It seems that he had construed to my 
favor the very supposition which had been bruited abroad to my 
prejudice. ''For," said he, "it is conjectured that Fenwick com- 
mitted the crime of which he is accused on the impulse of a dis- 
ordered reason. That conjecture is based upon the probability 
that a madman alone could have committed a crime without ade- 
quate motive. But it seems quite clear that the accused is not 
mad ; and I see cause to suspect that the accuser is." Grounding 
this assumption on the current reports qf the wiftM?ss/s manner and 
bearing since he had been placed under official surveillance, Mar- 
grave had commisioned the policeman, Waby, to make inquiries 
in the village to which the accuser asserted he had gone in quest 
of his relations, and Waby had, there, found persons who remem- 
bered to have heard that the two brothers named Walls lived less 
by the gains of a petty shop which they kept than by the pro- 
ceeds oi some property consigned to them as the nearest of kin to 
a lunatic who had once been tried for his life. Margrave had then 
examined the advertisements in the daily newspapers. One of 
them, warning the public against a dangerous maniac who had 
ejected his escape from an asylum in the west of England, caught 
his attention. To that asylum he had repaired. 

There he learned that the patient advertised was one whose | 
pensily was homicide, consigned for lii'e to the asylum oi: 
of a murder, for which he had been tried. The description of this 
person exactly tailied with that of the pretended American. The 
medical superintendent of the asylum, hearing all the particulars 
from Margrave, expressed a strong persuasion that the witness was 
his missing patient, and had himself committed the crime of which 
he had accused another. If so, the superintendent undertook to 
coax from him the full confession of all the circumstances. Like 
many other madmen, and not least those whose propensity is to 
crime, the fugitive maniac was exceedingly cunning, treacherous, 
secret, and habituated to trick and stratagem. More subtle than 
even the astute in possession of all their faculties,, whether to 
achieve his purpose or to conceal it, and fabricate appearances 
against another.. But, while, in ordinary conversation, he seemed 
rational enough to those who were not accustomed to study him, 
he had one hallucination which, when humored, led him always, 
not only to betray himself, but to glory in any crime proposed or 
committed. He was under the belief that he had made a bargain- 
with Satan, who, in return lbr implicit obedience, would bear him 
harmless through all the consequences of such submission, and 
finally raise him to great power and authority. It is no unfrequent 



A STRANOB STOBYi , 1/9 

illusion of homicidal maniacs to* suppose llicy arc under the influ- 
ence of the Evil One, or possessed by a Demon. Murderers have 
assigned as the only reason they themselves could give for their 

crime, that -"the Devil got into them," and urged the deed. 

the insane have, perhaps, no attribute more in common than that 

of supprweening self-esteem. The maniac who has been removed 

from a garret, sticks straws in his hair and calls them a crown. So 
much does inordinate arrogance characterize mental aberration, 
that, in the course of my own practice, I have detected, in that 
infirmity, the certain symptom of insanity, especially moral insanity 
lofig before the brain had made its disease manifest even to the 
most familiar kindred. 

Morbid Self-esteem accordingly pervaded the dreadful illusion 
by which the man 1 now speak of was possessed. Be was proud 
to be the protected agenl of the Fallen Angel. And if that self- 
esteem were artfully appealed to, he would exult superbly in the 
evil he held himself ordered to perform, as if a special prerogative, 
an official rank and privilege; then, lie would he led on to boast 
sfully of thoughts which the most cynical of criminals, in whom 
intelligence was not ruined, would shrink from owning. Then, he 
would reveal himself in all his deformity with as complacent and 
frank a self-glorying as some vain good man displays in parading 
his amiable sentiments and his henehcicut deeds. 

"If," said the superintendent, "this be the patient who has 
escaped from me, and if his propensity to homicide lias been, in 
some way directed towards the person who has been murdere 
shall not be with him a quarter of an hour before he will inform 
me how it happened, and detail the arts he employed in shifting his 
crime .upon another — all will be told as minutely as a child tells 
tlie tale of some school-hoy exploit, in which he counts on your 
sympathy, and feels sure of your applause." 

Margrave brought lids gentleman back to L , took him to 

the mayor, who was one of my warmest supporters; the mayor 
had sufficient influence to dictate and arrange the rest. The super- 
intendent was introduced to the room in which the pretended 
American was lodged. At his own desire a select number of wit- 
nesses were admitted with him — Margrave excused himself; he 
said candidly that he was too intimate a friend of mine to be an 
impartial listener to aught that concerned me so nearly. 

The superintendent proved right in his suspicions, and verified 
his promises. My false accuser w&s his missipg patient ; the man 
recognized Dr.* * * with no apparent terror, rather with an air 
of condescension, and in a very few minutes was led to loll hisown 
tale with a gloating complacency both at the agency by which lie 
deemed himself, exalted, and at the dexterous cunning with which 
he had acquitted himself of the task, that increased the horror of 
his narrative. 

He spoke of the mode of his escape, which was extremely in- 



180 A STRANGE STORY. 

genious, but of which the details,' long in themselves, did not in- 
terest me, and I understood them too imperfectly to repeat. He" 
had encountered a seafaring traveler on the road, whom he had 
knocked down with a stone and robbed him of his glazed hat and 
pea-jacket, as well as of a small sum in coin, which last enabled 
him to pay his fare in a railway that conveyed him eighty miles 
away from the asylum. Some trifling remnant of this money still 
in his pocket, he then traveled on foot along the high road till he 

came to a town about twenty miles distant from L '■ ; there he 

had stayed a day or two, and there he said " that the Devil had 
told him to buy a case-knife, which he did." "He knew by that 
order that the Devil meant him to do something great." " His 
Master," as he called the fiend, then directed him the road he 

should take. He came to L , put up, as he had correctly 

stated before, at a small inn, wandered at night about the town, 
was surprised by the sudden storm, took shelter under the convent 
arch, overheard somewhat more of my conversation with Sir 
Philip than lie had previously deposed — heard enough to excite his 
curiosity as to the casket: '" While he listened, his Master told him 
thai he must get possession of that casket." Sir Philip had 
quitted the archway almost immediately after 1 had done so, and 
he would then have attacked him if lie had not caught sight of a 
policeman .going his rounds. He hail followed Sir Philip to a 
house (Mr. Jeeve's). "His Master told him to wait and watch." 
lid so. When Sir Philip came forth, towards the dawn, he 
fallowed him, saw him enter a narrow street, come up to him, seized 
him . rin, demanded all lie had about him. Sir Philip 
tried to shake him oil' — struck at him. What follows, 1 spare 
reader. The deed was done, lie robbed the dead man both of 
the casket and of the purse thai he found in the pockets; had 
scarcely done so when be heard footsteps. He had just lime to 
gel behind the portico of a detached house at angles with the 
street, when 1 came up. lie witnessed, from his hiding-place, the 
brief conference between myself and the policeman, and when they 
moved on, bearing the body, stole unobserved away. He was go- 
ing back towards the inn, when it occurred to him that it would be 
safer if the casket and purse were not about his person ; that he 
asked his Master to direct him how to dispose of them ; that his 
Master guided him to an open yard (a stone mason's), at a very 
little distance from the inn ; that in this yard there stood an old 
wych-elm tree, from the gnarled roots of which the earth was worn 
away, leaving chinks and hollows, in one of which he placed the 
casket and purse, taking from the latter only two sovereigns and 
some silver, and then heaping loose mould over the hiding-place. 
That he then repaired to his inn, and left it late inlhe morning, on 
the pretence of seeking for his relatives — persons, indeed, who really 
had been related to him, but of whose death years ago he was 
aware. He returned to L a few days afterwards, and, in the 



A STRANGE STORY. 181 

dead of night, went to take up the casket and the money. He 
found the purse with its contents undisturbed ; hut the lid of the 
casket was unclosed. From the hasty glance he had taken of it 
before burying it, it had seemed to be firmly locked — lie was 
alarmed lest some one had been to the spot. But his Master 
whispered to him not to mind, told him that he might now take 
the casket, and would be guided what to do with it; that he 
did so, and, opening Hie lid, found the casket empty : thai be 
took the rest of the money out of the purse, but that he did not 
take the purse itself, for it had a crest and initials on it. which 
might lead to discovery of what had been done; that he there- 
fore left il in the hollow among the roots, heaping the mould over 
it as before; that, in Hie course of the day, he heard the people a! 
the inn talk of the murder, and that his own first impulse was to 
lid out of the town immediately, but that his Master " made him 
too wis;' (•„,• that," and bade him stay ; that passing- through the 
streets, he saw me come out of the sash-window door, go to a 
stable-yard on the other side of the house, mount on horseback and 
ride away ; that he observed the sash-door was left partially 
open; that, he walked by it. and saw the room empty ; there was 
only a dead wall opposite, the place was solitary, unobserved; that 
his Master directed him to lift up the sash gently, enter the room, 
and deposit the knife and the casket in a large walnut-tree bureau, 
which stood unlocked near the window. All that followed — his 
visit to Mr. Vigors, his accusation against myself, his whole tale — 
was, he said, dictated by his Master, who was highly pleased with 
him, and promised to bring him safely through. And here he turned 
round with a hideous smile, as if for approbation of his notable 
cleverness and respect for his high employ. 

Mr. Jeeves had the curiosity to request the keeper to inquire 
how, in what, form, or in what manner, the Fiend appeared to the 
narrator, or conveyed his infernal dictates. The man at first re- 
fused to say, but it was gradually drawn from him that the Demon 
had no certain and invariable form; sometimes it appeared to him 
in the form of a rat; sometimes even of a leaf, or a fragment of 
wood, or a rusty nail ; but, that his Master's voice always came to 
him distinct, whatever shape he appeared in ; only, he said, with 
an air of great importance, his Master, this time, had graciously 
condescended, ever since he left the asylum, to communicate with 
him in a much more pleasing and imposing aspect than he had ever 
dime before — in the form of a beautiful youth, or rather, like a 
bright rose-colored shadow, in which the features of a young man 
were visible, and that he had heard the voice more distinctly than 
usual, though in a milder tone, and seeming to come to him from a 
great, distance. 

After these revelations the, man became suddenly disturbed. He 
shook from limb to limb, he seemed convulsed with terror; he 
cried out that he had betrayed the secret of his Master, who had 



182 • A STRANGE STORY. 

warned him not to describe his appearance and mode of communi- 
cation, or he would give his servant up to the tormentors. Then 
the maniac's terror gave way to fury ; his more direful propensity 
made itself declared; he sprang into the midst of his frightened 
listeners, seized Mx- Vigors by the throat, and would have strangled 
him but for the prompt rush of the superintendent and his sa^elites. 
Foaming at the mouth, and horribly raving, he was then manacled, 
a straight- waistcoat thrust upon him, and the group so left him in 
charge of his captors. Inquiries were immediately directed to- 
wards such circumstantial evidence as might corroborate the de- 
tails he had so minutely set forth. The purse, recognized as Sir 
Philip's, by the valet of the deceased, was found buried under the 
wych-elm. A policeman, despatched, express, to the town in 
which the maniac declared the knife to have beea purchased, 
brought back word that a cutler in the place remembered perfect- 
ly to have sold such a knife to. a seafaring man, and identified the 
instrument when it was shown to him. From the chink of a door 
ajar, in the wall opposite my sash-window, a maid-servant, watch- 
ing for her sweetheart (a journeyman caipenter, who had habitual- 
ly passed that way on going home to dine), had, though unob- 
served by the murderer, seen him come out of my window at a 
time that corresponded with the dates of his own story, though 
she had thought nothing of it at the moment, He might be a pa- 
tient, or have called on business.; she did not know that I was 
from home. The only point of importance not cleared up was 
that which related to the opening of the casket — the disappear- 
ance of the contents; the lock had been unquestionably forced. 
No one. however, could suppose that some third person had dis- 
covered the hiding-place and forced open the casket to abstract its 
contents and then rebury it. The only probable supposition was, 
that the man himself had forced it open, and, deeming the contents 
of no value, h d thrown them away before he had hidden the cas- 
ket and purse, and, in the chaos of his reason, had forgotten that 
he had so done. Who could expect that every link in a madman's 
tale would be found integral and perfect 1 In short, little import- 
ance was attached to this solitary doubt. Crowds accompanied 
me to my door, when I was set free, in open court, stainless ;— it 
was a triumphal procession. The popularity I had previously en- 
joyed, superseded for a moment by so horrible a charge, came back 
to me tenfold, as with the reaction of generous repentance for a 
momentary doubt, One man shared the public favor— the young 
man whose acuteness had delivered me from the- peril, and cleared 
the truth from so awful a mystery ; but Margrave had escaped 
from congratulation and compliment; he had gone on a visit to 
Strahan at Derval Court, 

Alone, at last, in the welcome sanctuary of my own home, what 
were my thoughts 1 Prominent amongst 'them all was that asser- 
tion of the madman, which had made me shudder when repeated 



A STRANGE STORY. 1S3 

to me : he had been guided to the murder and to all the subse- 
quent proceedings by the luminous shadow of the beautiful 
youth — the Sein-Lseca to which I had pledged myself. If Sir 
Philip Derval could be believed, Margrave was possessed of pow- 
ers, derived from fragmentary recoiled ions of a knowledge ac- 
quired in a former state of being, which would render his remorse- 
less intelligence infinitely dire, and frustrate the endeavors of a 
reason unassisted by similar powers, to thwart his designs or 
bring the law against his crimes. Had he then the arts that could 
thus influence the minds of others to serve his fell purposes, and 
achieve securely his own evil ends through agencies that could not 
bo traced home to himself? 

But for what conceivable purpose had I been subjected as a 
victim to influences as much beyond my control as the Fate or 
Demoniac Necessity of a Greek Myth? In the legends of the 
classic world some august sufferer is oppressed by Towers more 
than mortal, but with an ethical if gloomy vindication of his chas- 
tisement — he pays the penalty of crime committed by his ances- 
tors or himself, or he has braved, by arrogating equality with the 
gods, the mysterious calamity which the £ods alone can inflict. — 
But I. no descendant of Pelops, or CEdipus, boastful of a wisdom 
which could interpret the enigmas of the Sphinx, while ignorant 
even of his own birth — what had I done to be singled out from 
the herd of men for trials and visitations from the Shadowland of 
ghosts and sorcerers ? It would be ludicrously absurd to suppose 
Dr. Lloyd's dying imprecation could have had a prophetic 
effect upon my destiny ; to believe that the pretences of mesmer- 
ism were specially favored by Providence, and that to question 
their assumptions was an offence of profanation to be punished by 
exposure to preternatural agencies. There was not even that 
congruity between cause and effect which fable seeks in excuse 
for its inventions. Of ail men living, I, unimaginative disciple of 
austere science, should be the last to become the sport of that 
witchcraft which even imagination reluctantly allows to the ma- 
chinery of poets, and science casts aside into the mouldy lumber- 
room of obsolete supersition. 

Rousing my mind from enigmas impossible to solve — it was 
with intense and yet with most melancholy satisfaction that I 
turned to the image of Lilian, rejoicing, though with a thrill of 
awe. that the promise so mysteriously conveyed to my senses, 
had, here too, been already fulfilled — Margrave had left the town ; 
Lilian was no longer subjected to his evil fascination. But an in- 
stinct told me that that fascination had already produced an effect 
adverse to all hope of happiness for me. Lilian's love for myself 
was gone. Impossible otherwise that she — in whose nature I bad 
always admired that generous devotion which is, more or less, in- 
separable from the romance of youth— should have never conveyed 
in me one word of consolation in the hour of my agony and trial ; 



184 A STRANGE STORY. 

that she who, till the last evening we had met, had ever been so 
docile, in the sweetness of a nature femininely submissive to my 
slightest wish, should have disregarded my solemn injunction, in 
admitting Margrave to acquaintance, nay, to familiar intimacy ; 
and at the very time when to disobey my injunctions was to em- 
bitter my 'ordeal, and add her own contempt to the degradation im- 
posed upon my honor ! No, her heart must be wholly gone from 
me ; her very nature wholly warped. A union between us had 
become impossible. My love for her remained unshattered ; the 
more tender, perhaps, for a sentiment o! compassion. But my 
pride was shocked, my heart was wounded. My love was not 
mean and servile. Enough for me to think that she would be at 
least saved from Margrave. Her life associated with his ! — con- 
templation, horrible and ghastly ! — from that fate she was saved. 
Later, she would recover the effect of an influence happily so 
brief. She might form some new attachment — some new tie. — 
But love once withdrawn is never to be restored — and her love 
was withdrawn from me. I had but to release her, with my own 
lips from our engagement — she would welcome that release. 
Mournful, but firm in these thoughts and these resolut ions, I sought 
Mrs. Ashlefeb's house. 



CHAPTER XLII. 

It was twilight when I entered, unannounced (as had been my 
wont in our familiar intercourse), 1 lie .quiet sitting-room in which 
I expected to find mother and child. But Lilian was there alone, 
seated by the open window, her hands crossed and drooping on 
her knee, her eye fixed upon the darkening summer skies, in which 
the evening star had just stolen forth, bright and steadfast, near 
the pale sickle of a half moon that was dimly visible, but gave as 
yet no light. 

Let any lover imagine the reception he would expect to meet 
from his betrothed, coming into her presence after he had passed 
triumphant through a terrible peril to life and fame — and conceive 
what ice froze my blood, what anguish weighed down my heart, 
when Lilian, turning towards me, rose not, speke not — gazed at 

me heedlessly as if at some indifferent stranger — and — and 

But no matter ! I cannot bear to recall it even now, at the dis- 
tance of years ! I sat down beside her, and took her hand, with- 
out pressing it ; it rested languidly, passively in mine — one mo- 
ment ; — I dropped it then with a bitter sigh. 

" Lilian," I said, quietly, " you love me no longer. Is it not 
so?" 

She raised her eyes to mine, looked at me wistfully, and pressed 



A STRANGE STORY. 1 85 

her hand on her forehead, then said, in »a strange voice, " Did I 
ever love you ? What do you mean C 

" Lilian, Lilian, rouse yourself; are you not, while you speak, 
under some spell, some influence which you cannot describe nor 
account for V 

She paused a moment before she answered, calmly. " No ! — 
Again' 1 ask, what do you mean ?" 

"What do I mean t Do you forget that we are betrothed ? — 
Do you forget, how often, ami how recently, our vows of affection 
and constancy have been exchanged?" 

"No. 1 do not forget; but I must have deceived vou and my- 
self " 

" It is true, then, that you love me no more 1" 

" I suppose so." 

" But, oh, Lilian, is it that your heart is only closed to me? or 
is it — oh, answer truthfully — is it. given to another \ — to him — to 
him — against whom i warned you, whom 1 implored you not to 
receive. Tell me, at least, that, your love is not gone to Mar- 
gnu e 



' To him — love to him ! Oh, no — no- 



" "What, then, is your feeling toward him ?" 

Lilian's face grew visibly paler — even in thai dim light. " 1 
know- not," she said, almost in a whisper; " but it is — partly awe — 
partly " 

"What r 

"Abhorrence!" she said, almost fiercely, and rose to her feet, 
with a wild, defying start. 

"If that be so.'' 1 said gently, " you would not grieve were 
you never again to see him " 

"But I shall see him again," she murmured, in a tone of wean 
sadness, and sank hack once more into her chair. 

"I think not," said I, "and I hope not. And now hear me, 
and heed me, Lilian. It is enough for me, no matter what your 
feelings toward another, to hear from yourself that the affection 
you once professed for me is gone. 1 release you from your troth. 
•If folks ask why we two heiieeforth separate the lives we had 
agreed to join, you may say, if you please, that you could notgive 
your hand to a man who bad known the taint of a felon's prison, 
even on a falsi' charge. If that seems to you an ungenerous rea- 
son, we will leave it. to your mother to find a better. Farewell ! — 
For) our own sake I can yet feel happiness — happiness to hear 
thai you do not love the man against whom I warn you still more 
solemnly than before ! Will you not give me your hand in part- 
ing — and have I not spoken your own wish '." 

She turned away her face, and resigned her hand tome in si- 
lence. Silently 1 held it in mine, and my emotions nearly sti 
me. One symptom of regret, of reluctance, on her part, and 1 
should have fallen at her feet and cried, •• Do not let us break a 



1S6 A STRANGE STORY. 

tie which our vows should have made indissoluble ; heed not my 
offers — wrung from a tortured heart. You cannot have ceased to 
love me !" But no such symptom of relenting showed itself in 
her, and with a groan I left the room. 



CHAPTER XLIII. 

I was just outside the garden door, when I felt an arm thrown 
round me, my cheek kissed, and wetted with tears. Could it be 
Lilian ? Alas, no ! It was her mother's voice, that, between laugh- 
ing and crying, exclaimed hysterically : " This is joy, to see you 
again, and on these thresholds. I have just come from your house ; 
I went there on purpose to congratulate you, and to talk to you 
about Lilian. But you have seen her ?'•' 

" Yes ; I have but this moment left her. Come this way." I 
drew Mrs. Ashleigh back into the garden, along the old winding 
walk, which the shrubs concealed from view of the house. We sat 
down on a rustic seat, where I had often sat with Lilian, midway 
between the house and the Monk's Well. I told the mother what 
had passed between me and her daughter; I made no complaint 
of Lilian's coldness and change; I did not hint at its cause. "Girls 
of her age will change," said I ; " and all that now remains is for 
us two to agree on such a tale to our curious neighbors, as may 
rest the whole blame on me. Man's name is of robust fibre ; it 
could not push its way to a place in the world, if it could not bear, 
without sinking, the load idle tongues may lay on it. Not so, 
Woman's Name — what is but gossip against Man, is scandal 
against Woman." 

" Do not be rash, my dear Allen," said Mrs. Ashleigh, in great 
distress. " I feel for you, 1 understand ; in your case I might act 
as you do. I cannot blame you. Lilian is changed — changed 
unaccountably. Yet sure I am that the change is only on the 
surface, that her heart is really yours, as entirely and as faithfully 
as ever it was ; and that later when she recovers from the strange, 
dreamy kind of torpor which appears to have come over all her 
faculties and all her affections,[she would awake with a despair which 
you cannot conjecture, to the knowledge that you had renounced 
her." 

"I have not renounced her," said I, impatiently; "I did but 
restore her freedom of choice. But pass by this now, and explain 
to me more fully the change in your daughter, which I gather 
from your words is not confined to me." 

" I wished to speak of it before you saw her, and for that reason 
came to your house. It was on the morning in which we left her 



A STRANGE STORY. V_ 187 

alint's to return hither that I first noticed something peculiar in 
her look and manner. She seemed absorbed and absent, so much 
so that. I asked her several times to tell me what made her so 
grave, but I could only get from her that she had had a confused 
dream which she could not recall distinctly enough to relate, bul 
that she was sure it boded evil. During the journey she became 
gradually more herself, and began to look forward with delight to 
the idea of seeing you again. Well, you came that evening. What 
passed between you and her you know best. You complained 
that she slighted your request to shun all acquaintance with .Air. 
.Margrave. 1 was surprised that, whether your wish were 
able or not, she could have hesitated to comply with it. I spoke 
to her about it after you had gone, and she wept bitterly at think- 
ing she had displeased you." 

"Shewepl ! 5Tou amaze tue. Vet the next day what a note 
she returned to mine ! " . 

"The next day the change in her became very visible to me. — 
told me, in an excited manner, thai she was convinced she 
OUghi not to marry you. Then came, the following day. the news 
iur committal. I heard of it, but dared not break it to her. I. 
went to our friend, the mayor, to consult with him what to say, 
what do ; and to learn more distinctly than I had done from ter- 
rified, incoherent servants, the rights of so dreadful a story. When 
1 returned, 1 found, to my amazement, a young stranger in the 
drawing-room ; ii was Mr. Margrave — Miss Brabazon had brought 
him at his request. Lilian was in the room, too, and my astonish- 
ment was increased when she said to me with a singular smile, 
vague but tranquil ; ' I know all about Allen Fenwick ; Mr. Mar- 
grave lias told me all. He is a friend of Allen's, lie says there 
is no cause for fear.' Mr. Margrave then apologized to me for his 
intrusion in a caressing, kindly manner, as if one of the family. — 
lie said he was so intimate with you that he felt he could best 
break to Miss Ashleigh an information she might receive elsewhere, 
for that he was the Only man in the town who treated the charge 
with ridicule. You. know the wonderful charm of this young man's 
manner. I cannot explain to you how it was, but in a Tew mo- 
ments 1 was as much at home with him as if he had been your 
brother. To be brief, having once couie.be came constantly. 
had moved, two days btfore you went to Derval Court, from his 

hotel to apartments in Mr. 's house, just bppdsitel We could 

see him on his balcony from our terrace ■ he would smile to us and 
come across. I did wrong in slighting your injunction, and suffer- 
ing Lilian to do so. 1 could not help it, be was such a comfort to 
me — to her, too — in our tribulation. He alone had no doleful 
words, wore no long face ; he alone \\*is invariable cheerful. — 
> Every thing,' he said, ' would come right in a day or tv 

■ \iiil Lilian could not but admire thidyoung man. he I8S0 beau- 
tiful." 



18S A STRANGE STORY. 

" Beautiful 1 Well, perhaps. But if you have a jealous feeling 
vou were never more mistaken. Lilian, I am convinced, does more 
than dislike him ; he has inspired her with repugnance, with*terror. 
And much as I own I lrke him, in his whd, joyous, careless, harm- 
less way, do not think I flatter you if I say that Mr. Margrave is 
not the man to make any girl untrue to you — untrue to a lover 
with infinitely less advantages than you may pretend to. He 
would he an universal favorite, I grant; hut there is a something 
in him, or a something wanting in him, which makes liking and 
admiration stop short of love. I know not why ; perhaps, because, 
with all his good humor, he is so absorbed in himself, so intensely 
egotistical — so light; were he less clever, I should say so frivol- 
ous. He could not make love, he could not say in the serious tone 
of a man in earnest, ' I love you.' He owned as much to me, and 
owned, too, that he knew not even what love was. As to myself — 
Mr. Margrave appears rich ; no whisper against his character or 
his honor ever reached me. Yet were you out. of the question, 
and were there no stain on his birth, nay, were he as high in rank 
and wealth as he is favored by Nature in personal advantages, I 
confess I could never consent to trust him with my daughter's fate. 
A voice at my heart would cry, ' No ! ' It may be an unreasonable 
prejudice, but I. could not bear to see him touch Lilian's hand ! " 

" Did she never, then — never sutler him even to take her hand 1" 

" Never. Do not think so meanly of her as to suppose that she 
could be caught by a fair face, a graceful manner. Reflect : just 
before, she had refused, for your sake, Ashleigh Somner, w T hom 
Lady Haughton said, 'no girl in her senses could refuse;' and this 
change in Lilian really began before we returned to L ; be- 
fore she had ever seen Mr. Margrave. I am convinced it is some- 
thing in the reach of your skill as physician — it is on the nerves, 
tlie system. 1 will give you proof of what I say, only do not be- 
tray me to her. , It was during your imprisonment, the night be- 
fore your release, that I was awakened by her coming to my bed- 
side. She was sobbing as if her heart would break. 'Oh, mother, 
mother!.' she cried, 'pity me, help me—I am so wretched.' 
' What is the matter, darling 1 ? ' ' 1 have been so cruel to Allen, 
and I know I shall be so again. I cannot help it. Don't question 
me; only, if we are separated, if he cast me off, or I reject him, 
tell him some day — perhaps when I am in my grave — not to be- 
lieve appearances ; and that I, in my heart of hearts, never ceased 
to love him ! " 

" She said that ! »You are not deceiving me 1 " 

" Oh, no ; how can you think so 1 " 

" There is hope still, "' I murmured ; and I bowed my head upon 
my hands, hot tears forcing their way through the clasped fingers. 

" One word more," said I ; " you Tell me that Lilian has a re- 
pugnance to this Margrave, and yet that she found comfort in his 
visits — a comfort that, could not be wholly ascribed to cheering 



A STRANGE STORY. J 89 

words he might say about myself, since it is all but certain that I 
was not, at that time, uppermost in her mind. Can yon explain 
this apparent contradiction 1 " 

"I cannot, otherwise than by a conjecture which you would 
ridicule." 

" I can ridicule nothing now. What is your conjecture ?" 

"I know how much you disbelieve in the stories one hears of 
animal magnetism and electro-biology, otherwise " 

"You think that Margrave exercises some power of that kind 
over Lilian ? Has lie spoken of such a power \ " 

" Not exactly ; but he said that lie was sure Lilian possessed a 
faculty that lie called by some hard name, not clairvoyance, but a 
faculty, which be said, when I asked him to explain, was akin to 
prevision — to second sight. Then he talked of the Priestesses 
who had administered the ancienl oracles. Lilian, he said, re- 
minded him of I hem, with her deep eyes and mysterious smile." 

" And Lilian heard to him I What said she \ " 

" Nothing ; she seemed in fear while she listened." 

" He did not offer to try any of those arts practised by profes- 
sional mesmerists and other charlatans? " 

" I thought he was about to do so, hut I forestalled him ; say- 
ing 1 never would consent to any experiment of thai kind, either 
on myself or my daughter." 

" And he replied 1 " 

" With his gay laugh, that I was very foolish; that a person 
possessed of such a faculty as he attributed to Lilian, would, if the 
faculty were developed, he an invaluable adviser. He would 
have said more, but, I begged him to desist, Still I fancy a! 
times — do not be angry — that he does somehow or other bewitch 
her, unconsciously to herself: for she always knows when he is coin- 
ing. Indeed} I am not sure that he does not bewitch myself, for I 
by no means justify my conduct in admitting him to an intimacy 
so familiar, and in spite of your wish ; 1 have reproached myself, re- 
solved to shut my door on him, or to show by my manner that hi^ 
visits were unwelcome ; yet when Lilian has said, in the drowsy 
lethargic tone which has come into her voice (her voice naturally 
eajrnest and impressive, though always low), 'Mother, he will be 
here in two minutes — 1 wish to leave the room, and cannot' — I, 
too, have felt as if something constrained me against my will ; as 
if, in short, I were under that influence which Mr. Vigors — 
whom 1 will never forgive for his conduct to you — would ascribe 
to mesmerism. But will you not come in and see Lilian again ? " 

"No, not to-night; but watch and heed her, and if you see 
aughl to make you honestly believe that she regrets the rupture 
of the eld tie from whlCfi 1 have released her — why you know, 

Mrs. Ashleigh, that — that " My voice failed — 1 wrung the 

good woman's hand, and went my way. 

I had always till then considered Mrs. Ashleigh — if not as 



1 90 A STRANGE STORY. 

Mrs. Poyntz described her — " common-place weak " — still of an 
intelligence somewhat below mediocrity. I now regarded her 
with respect as well as grateful tenderness ; her plain sense bad 
divined what all my boasted knowledge had failed to detect in my 
earlier intimacy with Margrave — namely, that in him there was a 
something present, or a something wanting, which forbade love 
and excited fear. Young, beautiful, wealthy, seemingly blameless 
in life as he was, she would not have given her daughter's hand 
to him. 



CHAPTER XLIV. 

The next day my house was tilled with visitors. I had no 
notion 1 had so many friends. Mr. Vigors wrote me a generous 
and handsome letter, owning his prejudices against me on account 
of his sympathy with poor Dr. Lloyd, and begging my pardon for 
what lie now felt to have been harshness, if not distorted justice. 
But what most moved me, was the entrance of Stratum, who 
rushed up to me with the heartiness of old college days. " Oh, 
my dear Allen, can you ever forgive me ; that I should have dis- 
believed your word — should have suspected you of abstracting 
my poor cousin's memoir? " 

" Is it found, then 1 " 

il Oh, yes ; you must thank Margrave. He, cl-ever fellow, you 
know, came to me on a visit yesterday. He put me at once on the 
right scent. Only guess ; but you never can ! It was that 
wretched old housekeeper who purloined the manuscript. You re- 
member she came into the room while you were looking at the 
memoir. She heard us talk about it; her curiosity was roused; 
she longed to know the history of her old master, under his own 
hand ; she could not sleep ; she heard me go up to bed ; she 
thought you might leave the book on the table when you, too, went 
to rest. She stole down stairs, peeped through the keyhole of the 
lobby, saw you asleep, the book lying before you, entered, took 
away the book softly, meant to glance at its contents and to return 
it. You were sleeping so soundly she thought you would not wake 
for an hour ; she carried it into the library, leaving the door open, 
and there began to pore over it; she stumbled first on one of the 
passages in Latin ; she hoped to find some part in plain English, 
turned over the leaves, putting her candle close to them, for the old 
woman's eyes were dim, when she heard you make some sound in 
your sleep. Alarmed, she looked round ; you were moving uneasily 
in your seat, and muttering to yourself. From watching you she 
was soon diverted by the consequence of her own confounded 



A STRANGE STORY. 191 

curiosity and folly. In moving, she had unconsciously brought the 
poor manuscript close to the candle ; the leaves c&aght the flame ; 
her own cap and hand burning first; made her aware (if the mischief 
done. She threw down the hook ; her sleeve was in flames ; 
she had first to tear off the sleeve, which was, luckily for her, not 
sewn to her dress. By the time she recovered presence of mind to 
attend to the book half its leaves were reduced to tinder. She did 
not dare then to replace what was left of the manuscript on your 
table; returned, with it, to her room, lad it, and resolved to keep 
her own secret. I should never have guessed if ; I had never even 
spoke io her on the occurrence ; hut when I talked over the disap - 
peannice of the hook to Margrave last night, and expressed my 
disbelief of your story, he said, in his merry way : ' Hut do you 
think Fenwiek the only person curious about your cousin's odd ways 
and strange history I Why-, every servant in the household would 
have been equally curious. You have examined your servants, of 
course V ' No, 1 never thought of it.' ' Examine I hem now, then. 
Examine especially that old housekeeper. 1 observe a great 
change in her manner since 1 came here, weeks ago, to look over 
the house. She has something on her mind — I see it in her eyes.' 
Then it occurred to me, loo, that the woman's manner had altered, 
and that she seemed always in a tremble and iidgel. i went at once 
to her room, and charged her with stealing the hook. She fell on her 
knees, and told the whole story as 1 have told it tit you. and as 1 
shall Take care to tell it to all to whom I have so foolishly blabbed 
my yet more foolish suspicion of yourself. But can you forgive 
me, old friend !" 

" Heartily, heartily ! And the hook is burned !" 
" See ;" and lie produced the mutilated manuscript. Strange, 
the part burned — reduced, indeed, to tinder — was the concluding 
part that related to Haroun — to Grayle ; no vestige of thai pari 
left; the earlier portions were scorched and mutilated, hut, in 
some places, still decipherable ; hut as my eye hastily ran over 
these places. 1 saw only mangled sentences of the experimental 
problems which the writer had so minutely elaborated. 

" Will you keep the manuscript as it is, and as long as you 
" said Strahan. 

o, uo ; 1 will have nothing more to do with it. Consult some 
other man of science. And so this is the old woman's whole sioiy '. 
No accomplice — none ! No one else shared her curiosity and her 

fa. Oddly enough, though, she made much the same excuse 
for her pitiful folly that the madman made for his terrible crime j 
she said ' the Devi) put it into her head.' < >f course he did, as he 
puts everything wrong into any one's head. That does not mend 
the matter." 
"How! did she, too, say she saw a Shadow and heard a Voice 1" 
" No; not such a liar as that, and not mad enough for such a 



192 A STRANGE STORY. 

lie. But she said that when she was in bed, thinking over the 
book, something irresistible urged her to get up and go down into 
the study'; swore she felt something*lead her by the hand ; swore, 
too, that when she first discovered the manuscript was not in Eng- 
lish, something whispered in her ear to turn over the leaves and ap- 
proach them to the candle. But I had no patience to listen to all 
this rubbish. I sent her out of the house, bag and baggage. — 
But, alas ! is this to be the end of all my wise cousin's grand dis- 
coveries ?" 

True, of labors that aspired to briug into the chart of science 
new worlds, of which even the traditionary rumor was but a voice 
from the land of fable — nought left but broken vestiges of a daring 
footstep ! • The hope of a name imperishable amidst the loftiest 
hierarchy of Nature's secret temple, with all the pomp of recorded 
experiment, that applied to the mysteries of Egypt and Chaldsea 
the inductions of Bacon, the tests of Liebig — was there nothing 
left of this but what, here and there, some puzzled student might 
extract, garbled, mutilated, perhaps unintelligible, from shreds of 
sentences, wrecks of problems I 0, mind of man, can the works, 
on which thou wouldst found immortality below, be annulled into 
smoke and tinder by an inch of caudle in the hand of an old wo- 
man ! 

When Strahan left me, I went out, but not yet to visit patients. 
I stole through by-paths into the fields ; I needed solitude to bring 
my thoughts into shape and order. What was delusion, and what 
not ? — was I right or the public 1 Was Margrave really the most 
innocent and serviceable of human beings, kindly, affectionate, em- 
ploying a wonderful acuteness of benignant ends? Was I, in 
truth, indented to him for the greatest boon one man can bestow 
on another 1 For life rescued, for fair name justified 1 Or had he, 
by some demoniac sorcery, guided the hand of the murderer against 
the life of a person who alone could imperil his own ] had he, by 
the same dark spells, urged the woman to the act that had destroyed 
the only record of his monstrous being — the only evidence that 1 
was not the sport of an illusion in the horror with which he inspired 
me? 

But if the latter supposition could be admissible, did he use his 
agents only to betray them afterwards to exposure, and that, with- 
out any possible clue to his own detection as the instigator 1 Then, 
there came over me confused recollections of tales of mediaeval 
witchcraft which I had read in boyhood. Were there not on judi- 
cial record attestation and evidence solemn and circumstantial, of 
powers analagous to those now exercised by* Margrave ? Of sor- 
cerers instigating to sin through influences ascribed to Demons — 
making their apparitions glide through guarded walls, their voices 
heard from afar in the solitude of dungeons or monastic cells 1 sub- 
jugating victims to their will, by means which no vigilance could 
have detected, if the victims themselves had not confessed the 



A STRANGE STORY. 193 

witchcraft that had ensnared — courting a sure and infamous death 
in that confession — preferring such death to a life so haunted I — 
Were stories so gravely set forth in the pomp of judicial evidence, 
and in the history of times comparatively recent, indeed, to be 
massed — pell-mell together, as a moles indigesta of senseless su- 
perstition — all the witnesses to be deemed liars? all the victims 
and tools of the sorcerers, lunatics ? all the examiners or jud 
with their solemn gradations — lay and clerical — from Commissions 
of Enquiry to Courts Df Appeal — to be dispised for credulity, 
loathed for cruelty ; or, amidst records so numerous, so imposingly 
attested — were there the fragments of a terrible truth ] Ami had 
our ancestors been so unwise in those laws we now deem so 
age, by which the world was rid of scourges more awful and more 
potent than the felon with his candid dagger ? Fell instigators of 
the evil in men's secret hearts — shaping into action the vague, half- 
formed desire, and guiding with agencies, impalpable, unseen, their 
spell-bound instruments of calamity and death. 

Such were the gloomy questions that 1 — by repute, the sternest 
advoi imraon sense against fantastic errors; — by profes- 

sion, the searcher into flesh and blood, and tissue, and nerve, and 
sinew, for the causes of all that disease the mechanism of the uni- 
versal human frame; — I, self-boasting physician, sceptic, philoso- 
pher, materialist — revolved, not amidst gloomy pines, under grim 
winter skies, but as I paced slow through laughing meadows, and 
by the banks of merry streams, in the ripeness of the golden 
August; the bum of insects in the fragrant grass, the flutter of 
birds amid the delicate green of boughs chequered by playful sun- 
beams and gentle shadows, and ever in sight of the resorts of busy 
work-day man. AValls, roof-tops, church-spires rising high. There, 
white ami modern, the handwriting of our race, in this practical 
nineteenth century, on its square plain masonry and Doric shafts, 
the Town-Hall, central in the animated market-place. Audi — 1 — 
prying into In ste'd corners and dust-holes of memory for 

what my reason had flung there as worthless rubbish ; reviving the 
.i of French law, in thsproces verbal, against a GilledeRetz, 
or an Urbain Grandjer, and sifting the equity of sentences <>n 
witchcraft ! 

Bursting the links of this ghastly soliloquy with a laugh at my 
own lolly, I struck into a narrow path that led back toward the 
by a quiet and rural suburb; the path wound on through a 
wide and solitary churchyard, at the base of the Abbey Hill. — 
Many oi' the former dwellers on that eminence now slept in the 
lowly burial-ground at its toot. Ami the place, mournfully deco- 
rated with the tombs which still jealously mark distinctions of 
rank amidst the levelling democracy of the grave was kept trim 
with the care which comes half from piety and half from pride. 

I seated myself on a bench, placed between the clipped yew 
trees thai bordered the path from the entrance to tlie church 
13 



194 A STRANGE STORY. 

porch ; deeming vaguely that my own perplexing thoughts might 
imbibe a quiet from the quiet of the place. 

"And oh." I murmured to myself, "oh, that I had one bosom 
friend to whom I might freely confide all these torturing riddles 
which I cannot solve — one who could read 1113' heart, assured of 
its truthfulness, and wise enough to enlighten its troubles." 

And as I so murmured, my eye fell upon the form of a kneeling 
child — at the furtherest end of the burial ground, beside a grave 
with its new headstone gleaming white amidst the older moss- 
grown toombs, a female child, her head bowed, her hands clasped. 
I could see but the outline of her small form in its sable dress — 
an infant beside the dead. 

My eye and my thoughts were turned from that silent, figure, 
too absorbed in my own restless tumult of doubt and dread, for 
sympathy with the grief or the consolation of a kneeling child. — 
And yet I should have remembered that tomb ! Again I mur- 
mured with a fierce impatience, " Oh, for a bosom friend in whom, 
I could confide ! " 

I heard steps on the walks under the yews. And an old man 
came in sight, slightly bent, with long grey hair, but still with 
enough vigor for years to come — in his tread, firm, though slow — 
in the unshrunken muscles of his limbs and the steady light of his 
clear blue eye. I started. Was it possible? That countenance, 
marked, indeed, with the lines of laborious thought, but sweet in 
the mildness of humanity, and serene in the peace of conscience ! 
1 could not be mistaken. Julius Faber was before me. The pro- 
found pathologist, to whom my own proud self-esteem acknowledged 
inferiority, without humiliation ; the generous benefactor to whom 
I owed my own smooth entrance into the arduous road of fame and 
and fortune. I had longed for a friend, a confidant; what I sought 
stood suddenly at mv side. 



CHAPTER LXV. 



Explanation, on his part, was short and simple. The nephew 
whom he designed as the heir to his wealth, had largely outstripped 
the liberal allowance made to him — had incurred heavy debts ; 
and, in order to extricate himself from the debts, had plunged into 
ruinous speculations. Faber had come back to England to save 
his heir from prison or outlawry, at the expense of more than 
three-fourths of the destined inheritance. To add to all, the 
young man had married a young lady without fortune ; the uncle 
only heard of this marriage on arriving in England. The spend- 
thrift was hiding from his creditors in the house of his father-in- 
law, in one of the western counties. Faber there sought him, 



A STRANGE STORY. 195 

and, on becoming acquainted with his wife, gre$ reconciled to the 
marriage, and formed hopes of his nephew's future redemptiori. — 
Hi' spoke, indeed, of the young wife with great affection. She 
was good and sensible ; willing and anxious to encounter any pn 

ration by which her husband might retrieve (lie effects of his folly. 
" So," said ITaber "on consultation with this excellent creaturi — 
for my poor nephew is so broken down by repentance, that others 

must think fur him how to exalt repentance into reform — my plans 
were determined. I shall remove my prodigal from all scenes of 

temptation, lie has youth, strength, plenty of energy, hitherto 
misdirected. I shall take him from the Old World into the Kcw. 
1 have decided on Australia. The fortune still left me, small 
here* will he ample capital there. It is not endugh to maintain us 
separately, so we must- all live together. Besides, I feel that, 
though I have neither the strength nor the experience which could 
Ivsi serve a young settler on a strange soil, still, under my eye, 
my poor hoy will he at once more prudent and more persevering. 
We sail next week." 

Fahcr spoke so cheerfully, that I knew not how to express com- 
passion ; yet. .it his age, after a career of such prolonged and dis- 
tinguished labor, to resign the ease and comfort of the civilized 
stale for the hardship and rudeness of an infant colony, seemed 
tome a dreary prospect; and, as delicately, as tenderly as 1 
could to one whom I loved and honored as a father, I placed at 
his disposal the fortune which, in great part, I owed to him — 
pressing him at least to take from it enough to secure to himself. 
in his own country, a home suited to his years and worthy of his 
station. lie rejected all my oilers, however earnestly urged on 
him, with his usual modest and gentle dignity ; and assuring me 
thai he looked forward with great interest to a residence in lauds 
new to bis experience, and affording ample scope for the hardy en- 
joyments which had always most allured his tastes, he hastened 
to change the suhjeet. 

" And who, think you, is the admirable helpmate my scapegrace 

has had the saving good luck to find .' A daughter vi' the worthy 
man who undertook the care of poor Dr. Lloyd's orphans — the 
orphans who owed so much to your generous exertions to secure 
a provision for them — and that child, now just risen from her fa- 
ther's grave, is my pet companion, my darling ewe-lamh — Dr. 
Lloyd's daughter. Amy." 

Here the child joined us. quickening her pace a- ■ nized 

the old man. and nestling to his side as she glanced wistfully to- 
wards myself. A winning, candid, loveable child's face, somewhat 
melancholy, somewhat more thoughtful than is common to the 
of childhood, hut calm, intelligent, ami ineffably mild. Pres- 
ently she stole from the old man and put her hand in mine : 

•■ Are you not the kind gentleman who came to see him that 
night when he passed away from us, and who, they all say at 



196 A STRANGE STORY. 

home, was so good to my brothers and me? Yes, I recollect you 
now." And sbe put her pure face to mine, wooing me to kiss it, 

" I kind ! I good ! I — I ! Alas ! she little knew, little guess- 
ed, the wrathful imprecation her father had bequeathed to me that 
fatal night ! 

I did not dare to kiss Dr. Lloyd's orphan daughter, but my 
tears fell over her hand. She took them as signs of pity, and, in 
her infant thankfulness, silently kissed me. 

" Oh, my friend ! " I murmured to Faber, " I have much 
that I long to say to you — alone — alone — come to my house with 
me, be at least my guest as long as you stay in this town." 

" Willingly," said Faber, looking at me more intently than he 
had done before, and, with the true eye of the practised Hauler, 
at once soft and penetrating. 

He rose, took my arm, and whispering a word in the ear of the 
little girl, she went on before us, turning her head, as she gained 
the gate, for another look at her father's grave. As we walked to 
my house, Julius Faber spoke to me much of this child. Her 
brothers were all at school ; she was greatly attached to his ne- 
phew's wife ; she had become yet more attached to Faber himself, 
though on so short an acquaintance ; it had been settled that she 
was to accompany the emigrants to Australia. 

" There," said he, " the sum, that some munificent, but un- 
known friend of her father has settled on her, will provide her no 
mean dower for a colonist's wife, when the time comes for her to 
bring a blessing to some other hearth than ours." He went onto 

say that §he had wished to accompany him to L , in order to 

visit her father's grave before crossing the wide seas ; " and she 
has taken such fond care of me all the. way, that you might fancy 
I were the child of the two. I come back to this town, partly to 
dispose of a few poor houses in it which still belong to me, princi- 
pally to bid you farewell before quitting the Old World, no doubt 
forever. So, on arriving to-day, I left Amy by herself in the 
churchyard while I went to your house, but you were from home. 
Aud now I must congratulate you on the reputation you have so 
rapidly acquired, which has even surpassed my predictions." 

"You are aware," said I, falteringly, "of the extraordinary 
charge from which that part of my reputation dearest to all men 
has just emerged ? " 

He had but seen a short account in a weekly journal, written 
after my release. He asked details, which I postponed. 

Reaching my home, I busied myself to provide for the comfort 
of my two unexpected guests ; strove to rally myself — to be 
cheerful. Not till night, when Julius Faber and I were alone to- 
gether, did I touch on what was weighing at my heart. Then, 
drawing to his side, I told him all ; — all of which the substance 
is herein written, from the death scene in Dr. Lloyd's chamber to 
the hour in which I had seen Dr. Lloyd's child at her father's 



A STRANGE STORY. 107 

grave. Some of the incidents and conversations which had most 
impressed me, I had already committed to writing, in the fear that, 
otherwise, my fancy might forge for its own thraldom the links of 
reminiscence which my memory might let fall from its chain. — 
Faber listened with a silence only interrupted by short pertinent 
questions ; and when I had done, he remained thoughtful for some 
moments ; then the great physician replied thus : 

" I take for granted your conviction of the reality of all you tell 
me, even of the Luminous Shadow, the hodiless Voice; hut. he- 
fore admitting the reality itself, we must abide by the old maxim, 
not to accept as cause to effect those agencies which belong to the 
marvelous, when causes less improbable for the effect can be ra- 
tionally conjectured. In this case are there not such causes'? — 
Certainly there are " 

" There are ! " 

"Listen ; you are one of those men who attempt to stifle their 
own imagination. But in all completed intellect, imagination ex- 
ists, and will force its way ; deny it healthful vents, and it may 
stray into morbid channels. The death-room of Dr. Lloyd deeply 
impressed your heart, far more than your pride would own. This 
is clear, from the pains you took to exonerate your conscience, in 
your generosity to the orphans. As the heart was moved, so was 
the imagination stirred; and, unaware to yourseff, prepared for 
much that subsequently appealed to it. Your sudden love, con- 
ceived in the very grounds of the house so associated with recol- 
lections in themselves strange and romantic; the peculiar temper- 
ament and nature of the girl to whom your love was attracted; 
her own visionary beliefs, and the keen anxiety which infused into 
your love a deeper pOetry of sentiment — all insensibly tended tit 
induce the imagination to dwell on the Wonderful; and, in over- 
sirivingto reconcile each rarer phenomenon to the most, positive 
laws of Nature, your very intellect could discover no solution but 
in the Preternatural* 

" You visit a man who tells you lie has seen Sir Philip DervaTs 
i tlia.! Very evening, you hear a strange story, in which 
Sir Philip's name is mixed up with a tale of murder, implicating 
two mysterious pretenders to magio — Louis Graylc, and the Sage 
leppo. The tale so interests your fancy that even the glaring 
• ssihility of a not unimportant part of it, escapes your notice — 
namely, the account of a criminal trial (in which the circumstantial 
evidence was more easily attainable than in all the rest of the nar- 
rative), but which could not legally have taken place as told. Thus 
it is whenever the mind begins, unconsciously, to admit the shadow 
of the Supernatural : the Ohvious is lost to the eye that plunges 
into the Ohscure. Almost immediately afterwards \ on 
bee e acquainted with a young stranger, whose traits of charac- 
ter interest and perplex, attract yel revolt you. All this time you 
jed in a physiological work that severely tasks the brain. 



198 A STRAX'GE STORY. 

and in which you examine the intricate question of soul distinct 
from mind. 

" Ami, here, I can conceive a cause deep-hid amongst what me- 
taphysicians would call latent associations, for a train of thought 
which disposed you to accept the fantastic impressions afterwards 
made on you hy the scene in the Museum and the visionary talk of 
Sir Philip Derval. Doubtless, when at college you first studied 
metaphysical speculation, you would have glanced over Beattie's 
Essay on Truth as one of the works written in opposition to your 
favorite, David Hume." 

"Yes, I read the book, but I have long since forgotten all its 
arguments." 

"Well, in that essay, Beattie* cites the extraordinary instance 
of Simon Browne, a learned and pious clergyman, who seriously 
disbelieved the existence of his own soul ; and imagined that, by 
interposition of Divine power, his soul was annulled, and nothing 
left but a principle of animal life, which he held in common with' 
the brutes ! When years ago, a thoughtful imaginative student, 
you came on that story, probably enough you would have paused, 
revolved in your own mind and fancy what kind of a creature a 
man might, be, if, retaining human life and merely human under- 
standing, he was deprived of the powers and properties which 
seasoners have ascribed to the existence of soul. Something in 
this young man, unconsciously to yourself, revives that forgotten 
train of meditative ideas. His dread of death as the final cessation 
of being, his brute-like want of sympathy with his kind, his inca- 
pacity to comprehend the motives which carry man on to scheme 
and to build for a future that extends beyond his grave, all start 
up before you at the very moment your reason is overtasked, your 
imagination fevered, in seeking the solution of problems which, to a 
philosophy based upon your system, must always remain insoluble. 
The young man's conversation not only thus excites your fancies, 
it* disturbs your affections. He speaks not only of drugs that renew 
youth, but of charms that secure love. You tremble for your Lilian 
while you hear him ! And the brain thus tasked, the imagination 
thus inflamed, the heart thus agitated, you are presented to Sir 
Philip Derval, whose ghost your patient had supposed he saw 
weeks ago. 

" This person, a seeker after an occult philosophy, which had 
possibly acquainted him with some secrets in nature beyond the 
pale of our conventional experience, though, when analyzed, they 
might prove to be quite reconcilable with sober science, startles 
you with an undefined mysterious charge against the young man 
who had previously seemed to you different from ordinary mortals. 
In a room stored with the dead things of the brute soulless world, 

* Beattie's Essay on Truth, part i. c. ii. 3. The story of Simon Browne 
is to be found in The Adventurer. 



A STRANUE STORY. 199 

your brain becomes intoxicated with the fumes of some vapor 
which produces effects not uncommon in the superstitious practices 
of the East; your brain thus excited, brings distinctly before you 
the vague impressions ii had before received". Margrave becomes 
identified with the Louis Grayle of whom you had pfrevionsly 
heard an obscure and legendary tale, and all the anomalies in his 
character are explained by his being that which you had contend- 
ed, in your physiological work; it was quite possible for man to 
be — namely, mind and body without soul ! You were startled by 
the monster which man would be were your own theory possible; 
and in order to reconcile the contradictions in this very monster, 
you account for knowledge and for powers that mind, without s tul, 
could not have attained, by ascribing to this prodigy broken memo- 
ries of a former existence, demon attributes from former proficiency 
in evil- magic. My friend, there is nothing here which your own 
study of morbid idiosyncrasies should not suffice to solve." 

"80 then." said I, "you would reduce all that have affected my 
senses as realities into the deceit of illusions ! But," 1 added, in a 
whisper, terrified by my own question, "do not physiologists agree 
in tins : namely, that (though illusory phantasms may haunt the 
sane as well as the insane, the sane know that they are only illu- 
sions, and the insane do not?" 

•' Such a distinction," answered Faber, "is far too arbitrary and 
rigid for more than a very general and qualified acceptance. 
Midler, indeed, who is, perhaps, the highest authority on such a 
subject, says, with prudent reserve, « When a* person who is not 
insane sees spectre? and believes them to be real, his intellect must 
be imperfectly exercised.'* He would, indeed, be a bold physician 
who maintained that every man who believed he had really seen a 
ghosl was of unsound mind. In Dr. Abercrombie's interesting 
account of spectral illusions, he tells us of a servant rgirl who be- 
lieved she saw, at the font of her bed, the apparition of Curran, in 
a sailor's jacket and an immense pair of whiskers. f No doubt the 
spectre was an illusion, and Dr. Almrcrombie very ingeniouslj 
gests the association of ideas by which the apparition was conjured 
ith the grotesque adjuncts of the jacket and the whiskers; but 
the servant-girl, in believing the reality of the apparition, was cer- 
tainly not insane. When 1 read in the American public journals! 
of 'spiritual manifestation,' in which large numbers of persons of at 
least tin- average degree of education, declare that they have ac- 
tually witnessed various phantasms much more extraordinary than 



* Miiller's Physiology of the Senses, p. 394. 

Lbercrombie on the Intellectual Powers, ;>. 281. (15th edition.) 

. At tin- (Lite of Faber's c oversation with Allen Fenwick, the (so-called) 
spirit manifestations had nol spread from A 1 1 h ■ i- i < * . , over Europe, Hut if they 
hid. Faber's views would, no doubt, have remained tin- same. 



200 A STRANGE STORY. 

all which you have confided to me, and arrive, at once, at the conclu- 
sion that they are thus put into direct communicatiou with departed 
souls, I mu'sl assume that they are under an illusion, but I should 
be utterly unwarranted in supposing that because they credited 
that illusich they were insane. I should only say with Miiller, that 
in tlieii' reasoning on the phenomena presented to them, 'their in- 
tellect was imperfectly exercised.' And an impression made on 
the senses, being in itself sufficiently rare to excite our wonder, may 
be strengthened till it takes the form of a positive fact, by various 
coincidences which are accepted as corroborative testimony, yet 
which are, nevertheless, nothing more than coincidences found in 
every-day matters of business, but only emphatically noticed when 
we can exclaim, 'How astonishing!' In your case such coin- 
cidences have been, indeed, very signal, and might well aggravate 
the perplexities into which your reason was thrown. Sir Philip 
Derval's murder, the missing casket, the exciting nature of the 
manuscript, in which a superstitious interest is already enlisted by 
yoof expectation to find in it the key to the narrator's boasted pow- 
ers, and his reasons for the astounding denunciation of the man 
whom you suspect to be his murderer ; in all this there is much to 
confirm, nay, to cause, an illusion, and for that very reason, when 
examined by strict laws of evidence, in all this there is but addi- 
tional proof that the illusion was — only illusion. Your affections 
contribute to strengthen your fancy in its war on your reason. 
The girl you so passionately love develops, to your disqUie 
and terror, the visionary temperament which, at her age, is ever 
liable to fantastic caprices. She hears Margrave's song, which, 
you say. has a wildness of charm that affects and thrills even you. 
Who does not know the power of music 1 and of all music, there is 
none so potential as that of the human voice. Thus, in some 
languages, charm and song are identical expressions ; and even 
w hen a critic, in our own sober newspapers extols a Mali bran or a 
'Grisi, you may be sure that he will call her 'enchantress.' Well, 
this lady, your betrothed, in whom the nervous system is extremely 
impressionable, hears a voice, which, even to your ear, is strangely 
melodious, and sees a form and face which, even to your eye, are 
endowed with a singular character of beauty. Her fancy is im- 
pressed by what she thus hears and sees, and impressed the more, 
because, by a coincidence not very uncommon, a face like that 
which she beholds, has before been presented to her in a dream or 
a reverie. In the nobleness of genuine, confiding, reverential love, 
rather than impute to your beloved a levity of sentiment that would 
seem to you a treason, you accept the chimera of 'magical fascin- 
ation.'' In this frame of mind you sit down to read the memoir of 
a mysticalienthusiast. Do you begin now to account for the Lumi- 
nous Shadow 1 A dream ! And a dream no less because your 
eyes were open and you believed yourself awake. The diseased 
imagination resembles those mirrors which, being themselves dis- 
torted, represent distorted pictures as correct. 



A STRANGE STORY. 801 

" Ami even this memoir of Sir Philip Derval's ; — can you be 
quite sure that you actually read the part which relates to Haroun 
and Louis (irayh- .' Vou say that, while perusing the manuscript, 
yoa saw the Luminous Shadow and became insensible. The old 
woman says you wore fast asleep. May you not really have fallen 
into a slumber, and in that slumber have dreamed the parts of the 
tale that relate to Grayle ? dreamed that you beheld the Shadow I 
Do you remember what is said SO well by Dr. Abererombie, to au- 
thorize the explanation 1 suggest to you: 'A person under the 
influence* of some strong mental impression tails asleep for a few 
seconds, perhaps without being sensible pf it ; some scene or per- 
son appears in a dream, and he starts up under the conviction that 
it was a spectral appearance.'"* 

" Bat," said 1, "the apparition was seen by me again, and when 
1. certainly, was not sleeping. 

"True; and who should know better than a physician so well 
read as yourself that a spectral illusion once beheld m always apt 
to return again in the same form. Thus. Goethe was long haunted 
by one image; the phantom of a flower unfolding itseli i elop- 

ing new flowers.t Thus, one of our most distinguished philosophers 
tells us of a lady known to himself, who would see her husband, 
hear him move am! speak, was not even in the house. % 

Bui insi;. ie facility which phantasms, once admitted, re- 

peal themselves to the senses are numberless. Many are recorded 
by Hibbert and Abererombie, and every physician in extensive 
practice can add largely from his own experience to the list. In- 
tense self-concentration is, in itself, a mighty magician. The 
magicians of the East inculcate the necessity of fast, solitude, and 

Abererombie mi the Intellectual Powers^ p. 278. (15th edition.) This 
author, not more [red for hi ice than his candor, an< 

is entitled to praise for 'a higher degree of original thought than which 

he modestly pretends, relates a curious anecdote illustrating "the ai 

een dreaming and spectral illusion, which he received from the •_■> 
man to whom it occurred — an eminent medical friend:" "Having sei up 
late one evening, under considerable anxiety for one ol his children, who was 
ill, he fell asleep in bis chair, and had a frightful drearj, in which the 
prominent figure was an immense baboon: He awoke With the fright, got up 

nd walked to a table which Was in the middle of the 
was then quite awake, and quite conscious of the articles around him; bul 
close by the wall in the < nd of the apartment he distinctly saw the baboon 
making the Bame grimaces which he bad seen in his dream ; and this 8] 

med visible for about halt a minute." New, a man who saw oulj a 
baboon would be quite i dmit that it was bul an rtptical illusion ; but 

boon, be had seen an intimate friend, and that friend, by some 
had died about that date, he would be a very strong- 
minded man it lie admitted, for the mystefj of seeing his friend, the 
natural solution which he v. admit for seeing a baboon. 

! 
Delation, p. I 

'.'.I. 



202 A STRANGE STORY. 

meditation for the due development of their imaginary powers. — 
And I have no doubt with effect ; because fast, solitude, and medi- 
tation — iu other words, thought or fancy intensely concentred, will 
both raise apparitions and produce the invoker's belief in them. — 
Spinello, striving to conceive the image of Lucifer for his picture 
of the Fallen Angels, was at first actually haunted by the Shadow 
of the liend. Newton himself has been subjected to a phantom, 
though to him, Son of Light, the spectre presented was that of the 
sun ! You remember the account that Newton gives to Locke of 
this visionary appearance, lie says that ' though he had looked 
at the sun with his right, eye only, and not with the left, yet his 
faucy began to make an impression upon his left eye as well as his 
right, for if he shut his right and looked upon the clouds, or a book, 
or any bright object with his left eye, he could see the sun almost 
as plain as with the right, if he did but Intend his fancy a little 
while on it ;' nay, 'for some months after, as often as he began to 
meditate on the phenomena, the spectrum of the sun began to re- 
turn, even though he lay iu bed at midnight, with his curtains 
drawn ! ' Seeing, then, how any vivid impression once made will 
recur, what wonder that you should behold in your prison the 
Shining Shadow that had first startled you in a wizard's cham- 
ber when poring over the records of a murdered visionary ? The 
more minutely you analyze your own hallucinations — pardon me 
the word — the more they assume the usual characteristics of a 
dream; contradictory, illogical, even in the marvels they represent. 
Can any two persons be more totally unlike each other, not merely 
as to form and years, bat as to all the elements of character, than 
the Grayle of whom you read, and the Margrave in whom you evi- 
dently think that Grayle is existent still 1 The one represented, 
you say, as gloomy, saturnine, with violent passions, but with an 
original grandeur of thought and will, consumed by an internal re- 
morse ; the other you paint to me as a joyous and wayward dar- 
ling of Nature, acute, yet frivolous, free from even the ordinary 
passions of youth, taking delight in innocent amusements, incapable 
of continuous study, without a single pang of repentance for the 
crimes you so fancifully impute to him. And now, when your sus- 
picions, so romantically conceived, are dispelled by positive facts, 
now, when it is clear that Margrave neither murdered Sir Philip 
Derval nor abstracted the memoir, you still, unconsciously to your- 
self, draw on your imagination iu order to excuse the suspicion 
your pride of intellect declines to banish, and suppose that this 
youthful sorcerer tempted the madman to the murder, the woman 
to theft " 

" But you forget the madman said ' that he w T as led on by the 
Luminous Shadow of a beautiful youth,' that the woman said also 
that she was impelled by some mysterious agency." 

" 1 do not forget those coincidences ; but how your learning 
would dismiss them as nugatory were your imagination not dis- 



A STRANGE STORY. 20 3 

posed to exaggerate them ! When you read the authentic histo- 
ries of any popular yiusion, such as the spurious inspirations of the 
jansenist Convulsionaries, the apparitions that invaded oonventSj 
as deposed to in the trial of tjrbain Grandier, the confes- 
sions of witches and wizards in [daces the most remote from each 
oilier, or, at this day, the tales of * spirit-manifestation ' recorded 
in halt the towns and villages of America — do not all the super- 
stitious impressions of a particular time have a common family 
likeness? What ore sees, another sees, though there has been no 
communication between the two. I cannot tell you why these 
phantasms thus partake of the nature of ail atmospheric epidemic; 
the fad remains incontestable! And, strange as may he the coin- 
cidence between your impressions of a mystic agency and those 6f 
some other brains nut cognizant of the chimeras of your own, still 
if is not simpler philosophy to say. 'They are coincidences of the 
same nature which made witches in the same epoch all tell much 
the same story of the broomsticks they rode and the sahbats al which 
they danced to the fiend's piping,' and there leave the matter} as 
in science we must leave many of the most elementary and familiar 
phenomena inexplicable as to their causes — is not this, 1 say, 
more philosophical than to insist upon an explanation which ac- 
06] I the supernatural rather than leave the extraordinary unac- 
counted lor :'" 

"As you speak," sajd [/resting my downcast face upon my 
hand. " 1 should speak to any patient who had confided to me the 
tale 1 have told to you." 

•' And yet. the explanation does not windy satisfy you I Very like- 
ly : io si me phenomena there is, as yet. no explanation. Perhaps 
Newton himself could not explain quite to his own satisfaction whj 
he was haunted at midnight by the spectrum of a sun ; though 1 
have no doubl that sonic later philosopher, whose ingenuity has 
been stimulated by Newton's account, has, by this time, sugge 
a rational solution of that enigma.* To return to your own case. 

* Newton's explanations is as follows: "'this story I tell you to let you un- 
derstand, that in fli'' observation related by Mr. Boyle, the man's fancy 
my concurred witli the impression made by the sun's ligh< to produce 
tiiai phantasm of the sun which 1"' constantly saw in oright objects, and bo 
your question about the cause of this phantasm inn/Ins another about the 
power of the fancy, which I must confess is too hard a knot for me in untie. 
■ <-c this effect in a constant motion i> I e the sun ought then 

to appear perpetually. It seems rather to consist in a disposition of the 
sensorium to move the imagination strongly, and to lie easily moved i>< 
the imagination and by the light as often as bright objects are looked upon." 
— Letter from Sir I. Newton tn Locke, Lord King's Life «f Lochc, ml. i. pp. 

in- limal and Vegetable Physiol red with reference to 

il Theology. Bridge water Treati ■) thus refers to this 

phenomenon, which hestates "all of u may experi 

"When the in ivid ' (Dr. Rnget is speaking of visual 

impressions) "another phenomenon oftfMi takes place, namely, their subsr- 



204 A STRANGE STORY. 

I have offered such interpretations of the mysteries that confound 
you, as appear to me authorized by physiological science. Should 
you adduce other facts which physiological science wants the data 
to resolve into phenomena always natural, however rare, still hold 
fast to that simple saying of Goethe's — 'Mysteries are not neces- 
sarily miracles.' And, if all which physiological science compre- 
hends in its experience wholly fails us, I may then hazard certain 
conjectures which, by acknowledging ignorance, is compelled to 
recognize the marvelous — (for, as where knowledge enters the 
marvelous recedes, so where knowledge falters, the marvelous ad- 
vances) — yet, still, even in those conjectures, I will distinguish the 
marvelous from the supernatural. But, for the present, I advise 
you to accept the guess that may best cpriet .the fevered imagina- 
tion which any bolder guess would only yet more excite." 

"You are right," said I, rising proudly to the full height of my 



quent recurrence after a certain interval, during which they are not felt, and 
quite independently of any renewed application of the cause which had originally 
excited them.'" (I mark by italics the. words which more precisely coincide 
with Julius Faber's explanations.) "If, for example, we look steadfastly at 
the sun for a second or two, and then immediately close our eyes, the image 
ot' spectrum of the sun remains for a long time present to the mind as if the 
light were still acting on the retina. It then gradually fades and disappears ; 
but if we continue to keep the eyes shut, the same impression will, after a 
certain time, recur and again vanish : and this phenomenon will be repeated at in- 
tervals, the sensation becoming fainter at each renewal. It is probable that 
these reappearances of the image, after the light which produced the original 
impression has been withdrawn, are occasioned by spontaneous affections of 
the retina itself which are conveyed to the sensorium. In other cases where 
the impressions are less strong, the physical changes producing these changes 
are perhaps confined to the sensorium." 

It may be said that there is this difference between the spectrum of the 
m:ii and such a phantom as that which perplexed Allen Fenvvick — namely, that 
the sun had been actually beheld before its visionary appearance can be re 
produced, and that Allen Fenwick only imagines he has seen the apparition 
which repeats itself to his fancy. •" But there are grounds for the suspicion " 
(says Dr. ilibbert, Philosophy of Apparitions, p. 250), "that when ideas of 
vision arc vivified to the height of sensation, a corresponding affection of the 
optic nerve accompanies the illusion." Miiller (Physiology of the Senses, p. 
1,392, Bayleji's translation) states the same opinion still more strongly, and Sir 
David Brewster, quoted by Dr. Hibbert(p. 251), says; " In examining these 
mental impressions I have found that they follow the motions of the eyeball 
exactly like the spectral impressions of luminious objects, and that they re- 
semble them also in their apparent immobility when the eye is displaced by an 
external force. If this result (which I state with much diffidence, from hav- 
ing only my own experience in its favor) shall be found generally true by 
others, it will follow that the objects of mental contemplation m*y be seen as 
distinctly as external objects, and will occupy the same local position in the axis 
of vision, as if they had been formed by the agency of light." Hence the im- 
pression of an image once conveyed to the senses, no matter how, whether by 
actual or illusory vision, is liable to renewal, "independently of any renewed 
application of the cause which had originally excited it," and can be seen in 
that renewal as "distinctly as external objects," for indeed " tne revival of 
the fantastic figure really does affect those points of the retina which had been 
previously impressed." 



A STRANGE STORY. 205 

stature, my head erect and my heart defying. " And so, let this 
subject be renewed no inure between us. 1 will brood over il no 
more myself. I regain the unclouded realm of my human intelli- 
gence; and, in that intelligence, I mock the sorcerer and disdain 
the spectre." 



CHAPTEE XLVI. 

Julius Faber and Amy Lloyd stayed in my house three days, 
and in her presence I felt a healthful sense of security and peace. 
Amy wished to visit her father's house, and I asked Faber, in taking 
her there, to seize the occasion to see Lilian, that he might com- 
municate to me his impression of a case so peculiar. 1 prepared 
Mrs. Ashleigb for this visi; by a previous note. When the old man 
and the child came hack, both brought me comfort. Amy was 
charmed with Lilian, who had received her with the sweetness 
natural to her real character, and I loved to hear Lilian's praise 
from those jpnocent lips. 

Faber's report was still more calculated to console me: 
"I have seen. I have conversed with her long and familiarly. 
You were quite right, there is no tendency to consumption in that 
exquisite, if delicate, organization ; nor do 1 see cause for the fear 
to which your statement had preinclined me. That head is too 
nobly formed for any constitutional cerebral infirmity. In its or- 
ation, ideality; wonder, veneration are large, it is time, but 
they are balanced by other organs, now perhaps almost dormant, 
bul which will come into play as life passes from romance into 
duty. Something at this moment evidently oppresses her mind. 
tn conversing with her, I observe abstraction — listlessnesa; but i 
am so convinced of her truthfulness, that if she has once told you she 
returned your affection, and pledged to you her faith, 1 should, in 
your place, rest perfectly satisfied that whatever he the cloud that 
now rests on her imagination, and for a lime obscures the id 
yourself, it will pass away.'' 

iber was a believer in the main divisions of "phrenology, though 
he did not accept all the dogmas of (Jail and Spurzheiin ; while to 
my mind, Ihe refutation of phrenology in its fundamental proposi- 
tions had been triumphantly established by the lucid arguments of 
Sir W. Hamilton* But when Faber rested on phrenological ob- 
servations, assurances in honor (if Lilian, I forgot Sir YY. Hamilton, 
and believed in phrenology. As iron girders and pillars expand 

* The summary of thie (listing oturer'a objection to phrenology is 

to be found m the Appendix to vol. i, on Metaphysics, p. 404 et 

teq. Edition I- 



206 A STRANGE STORY. 

and contract with the mere variations of temperature, so will the 
strongest conviction on which the human intellect rests its judg- 
ment, vary with the changes of the human heart; and the building 
ily sale where these variations are foreseen and allowed for by 
a wisdom intent on self-knowledge* 

There was much in the affection that had sprang up between 
.Julius Faber and Amy Lloyd which touched my heart and softened 
all its emotions. The man, unblessed like myself, by conjugal 
and parental ties, had, in his solitary age, turned for solace to the 
love of a child, as 1, in the prime of manhood, had turned to the 
love of a woman. But. his love was without fear, without jealousy, 
without trouble. My sunshine came to me, in a fitful ray, through 
clouds that had gathered over my noon ; his sunshine covered all 
his landscape, hallowed and hallowing bv the calm of declining 
day. 

And Amy was no common child. She had no exuberant im- 
ition ; she was haunted by no whispers from Afar ; she was a 
are fitted for the earth, to accept its -duties and to gladden its 
cures. Her tender observation, fine and tranquil, was alive to all 
the important household trifles, by which, at the earliest age, man's 
allotted soother asserts her privilege to tend and to comfort, It 
was pleasant to see her moving so noiselessly through the rooms 
I had devoted to her venerable protector, knowing all his simple 
wants, and providing for them as if by the mechanism of a heart 
exquisitely moulded to the loving uses of life. Sometimes when 
I saw her setting his chair by the window (knowing, as I did, how 
; he habitually loved to be near the light) and smoothing his 
i which he was apt to be unmethodical), placing the mark 
is book \vhen he ceased to read, divining, almost without his 
glance, some wish passing through his mind, and then seating her- 
self at his feet, often with her work — which was always destined 
for him or for one of her absent brothers — low and then, with the 
small book that she had carried with her, a selection of Bible 
s compiled for children ; — sometimes when I saw her thus, 
how 1 wished that Lilian, too, could have seen her, and have com- 
pared her own ideal phantasies with those young developments of 
the natural heavenly Woman ! 

But was there nothing in that sight from which I, proud of my 
arid reason even in its perplexities, might-have taken lessons for 
myself.' 

On the second evening of Faber's visit I brought to him the 
draft of deeds for the sale of his property. He had never been a 

* The change of length in iron girders caused by variation of temperature, 
has not unfrequently brought down the whole edifice into which they were 
Vied. Good engineers and architects allow for such changes produced by 
temperature; In the tubular bridge across the Meuai Straits, a. self-acting 
record of the daily amount of its contraction and expanse is ingeniously con- 
trived. 



A STRANGE STORY. 20"i 

man of business out of liis profession ; he was impatient to soil his 
property, and disposed to accept an offer at half its value. I in- 
sisted en taking on myself the task of negotiator; perhaps, too, in 
this office I w&s egotistically anxious to prove to thegreat physician 
that that which he believed to he my "hallucination" had in no 
way obscured my common sense in the daily affairs of life. So 1 
concluded, and in a lew hours, terms for his property that were 
only just, but were infinitely more advantageous than had appeared 
to himself to he possible. Hut, as 1 approached him with the 
papers, he put his linger to his lips. Amy was standing by him 
with her little hook in her hand, and his own Bible lay open on the 
table. He was reading to her from the Sacred Volume itself, and 
impressing on her the force and beauty of one of the Parables, the 
adaptation of which had perpiexed her; when he had done, she 
kissed him. hade him good night, and wen! away to rest. Then 
said Faber thoughtfully, and as if to himself more than me. 

" What lovely bridge between old age and childhood is re- 
ligion ! How intuitively the child begins with prayer and worship 
on entering lite, and how intuitively on quitting life the old man 
turns hack to prayer and worship, putting himself again side by 
side with the infanl ! "' 

1 made no answer, hut, after a pause, spoke of lines and free- 
holds, title-deeds and money ; and when the business on hand was 
concluded, asked nry learned guest if, before he departed, he would 
o too look over the pages of my ambitious Physiological "Work. 
There were pans of it on which 1 much desired ins opinion, touch- 
ing on subjects in which his special studies made him an authority 
i -as our land possessed. 

lie made me bring him the manuscript, and devoted much of 
thai niglii and the nexl day to its perusal. 

When he gave it to me hack, which was not till the morning of 
his departure, he commenced with eulogies on the scope of its de- 
sign and the manner of its execution, which flattered my vanity so 
much that 1 could not. help exclaiming, "Then, at least, thei 
no trace of 'hallucination' here !"' 

'• .Mas, my poor Allen ! hens perhaps, hallucination, or self- 
deception, is more apparent than in all the strange tales you con- 
fided to me. for here is the hallucination of a man seated on the 
shores of Nature, and who would say to its measureless sea, 'So 
far shall thou go and no further !' — here is the hallucination of the 
creature, who. not content with exploring the laws of the Creator, 
ends with suhmitling to his interpretation of some three or four 
laws, in the midst of a code of which all the resl are in language 
unknown to him — the powers and free-will of the Lawgiver hini- 
: here is the hallucination by which Nature is left (lodlcss — 
se man is left soulless. Whai would mailer all our specula- 
tions on a Deity who would eeasl to exist for us when we are in 
the grave I Why meie out, like Archytas, the earth and the sea. 



208 A STRANGE STORY. 

and number the sands on the store that divides them, if the end of 
this wisdom be a handfull of dust sprinkled over a skull ! 

'Nee quidquam tibi prodest 
Aerias teniafese domos, animo'que rotundum 
Percurbse polum morituro.' 

Your book is a proof the soul that you fail to discover. "Without a 
soul, no man would work for a future that begins for his fame 
when the breath is gone from his body. Do you remember how 
you saw that little child praying at the grave of her father ? Shall 
I tell you that in her simple orisons she prayed for the benefactor — 
who had cared for the orphan ; who had reared over dust that 
toiii!) which, in a Christian burial ground, is a mute but perceptible 
memorial of Christian hopes ; that the child prayed, haughty man, 
fur you 1 And you sat by knowing nought of this ; sat by amongst 
the graves troubled and tortured with ghastly doubts — vain of a 
n that was skeptical of eternity, and yet shaken like a reed 
by a moment's marvel. Shall I tell the child io pray for you no 
more ? — that you disbelieve in a soul ? If you do so, what is the 
efficacy of prayer 1 ? Speak, shall. I tell her this? Shall the infant 
pray for you never more ?" 

I was silent; I was thrilled. 

" Has it never occurred to you, who, in denying all innate per- 
ceptions as well as ideas, have passed on to deductions from which 
poor Locke, humble Christian that he was, would have shrunk in 
dismay ; has it never occurred to you as a wonderful fact, that 
the easiest tiling in the world to teach a child is that which seems 
to metaphysical schoolmen the abstrusest of all problems? Read 
ail those philosophers' wrangling about a First Cause, deciding mi 
what are miracles, and then again deciding that sitf:h m'iracls can- 
not be ; and when one has answered another, and left in the crucible 
of wisdom a caput mortuum of ignorance, then turn your eyes, 
and look at the infant praying to the invisible God at his mother's 
knees. This idea, so miraculously abstract, of a Power that the 
infant has never seen, that cannot be symbolled forth and ex- 
plained to him by the most erudite sage — a Power, nevertheless, 
that watches over him, that hears him, that sees him, that will 
carry him across the grave, that will enable him to live on for- 
ever ; — this double mystery of a Divinity and of a Soul the in- 
fant learns with the most facile readiness, at the first glimpse of 
his reasoning faculty. Before you can teach him a rule in addi- 
tion, before you can venture to drill him into his hornbook, he 
leaps, with one intuitive spring of all his ideas, to the comprehen- 
sion of the truths which are only incomprehensible to blundering 
sages ? And you, as you stand before me, dare not say, « Let the 
child pray for me no more ! ' But will the Creator accept the 
child's prayer for the man who refuses prayer for himself? Take 
my advice — Pray ! And in this counsel I do not overstep my 



A STUA.VUE STOKY. 209 

province. I speak not as a preacher, but as a physician. For 
health is a word that comprehends bur whole organization, and a 
just equilibrium of all faculties and functions is.the condition of 
•health. As m your Lilian, the equilibrium ia deranged by the 
over-indulgence of a spiritual mysticism which will. draws from 
the nutriment of duly the essential pabulum of sober sense, so in 
you, the resolute negation of disciplined spiritual communion be- 
tween Thought and Divinity, robs imagination of its noblest and 
safest vent. Tims, from opposite extremes, you and your Lilian 
in the same region of misl and cloud, losing sighjfc of each 
• and of the true ends of life, as her eyes only gaze/on the 
stars, and yours only bend to the earth. Were 1 advising her, 1 
should say : ' Your Creator has placed the scene of your trial lie- 
low, and not in the stars." Advising you, 1 say .- ' Bui in the trial 
below, man should recognize education for heaven.' In a word, I 
would draw somewhat more downward her fancy, raise some' 
more upward your reason. Take my advice, then — Pray. Your 
mental system needs the support of prayer in order to preserve iis 
balance. In the embarrassment and confusion of your senses, 
clearness of perception will come with habitual and tranquil con- 
fidence in J Sim who alike rides the universe and reads the heart. 
I only say here what has !>een said much better before by a rea- 
soncr in whom all students of Nature recognize a guide. I see 
on your table the very volume of Bacon which contains the pas- 
sage 1 commend to your reflection. Here it is. Listen : ' Take 
an example of a dog, and mark what a generosity and courage he 
will put on wh.'ii he finds himself maintained by a man who, to 
him, is, instead of a God. or melior natura, which courage is man- 
ifestly such as that creature, without that confidence of a better, 
nature than his own, could never attain. So man, when he resteth 
and assnreth himself" upon divine protection and favor, gajthereth 
a force and faith which human nature could not obtain.'* You 
are silent, bul your gesture tells me your doubt — a doubt which 
your heart, so femininely tender, will not speak aloud, lest you 
should rob the old man of a hope with which your strength of 
manhood dispenses — you doubt the efficacy of prayer ! Pause 
and reflect, bold but candid inquirer into the laws of that guide 
yon call Nature. If there were no efficacy in prayer — if prayer 
were as mere an illusion of superstitious phantasy as augl i againsl 
which your reason now- struggles — do you think thafNature her- 
self would have made it amongsl the mist common and facile of 
all her dictates I Do you believe that if there really did not exist 
that tie between Man and his .Maker — that link between lii'.' here 
and a life hereafter which is found in what we call Soul, alone — 
that wherever you look through the universe, you would behold a 

_ "Bacon's Essay on Atheism. This quotation is made with admirable feli- 
city and force iiy Dr. Whewell, page 378 of Bridgeware r Treatise, on Astron- 
omy dad General Physics <■• .si;!. Reference to Natural Theolocv 
14 



210 A STRANGE STORY. 

child at. prayer 1 Nature inculcates nothing that is superfluous. — 
Nature does not impel the leviathan, or the lion, or the eagle, or the 
moth, to pray ; she impels only man. Why 1 Because man only; 
has soul, and Soul seeks to commune' with the Everlasting, as a 
fountain struggles up to its source. Burn your book. It would 
found you a reputation for learning and intellect and courage, I 
allow ; but learning and intellect and courage wasted against a 
Truth — like spray against a rock ! A Truth valuable to the 
world, the world will never part with. You will not injure the 
truth, but you will mislead and destroy many, whose best secu 
is in the Truth which you so eruditely insinuate to be a fable. — 
Soul and Hereafter are the heritage of all men ; the humblest 
journeyman in those streets, the pettiest trader behind those coun- 
ters, have in those beliefs their prerogatives of royalty. You 
would dethrone and embrute the lords of the earth by your theo- 
ries. Fof my part, having given the greater part of ray life to the 
study and analysis of facts, I would rather be the author # of the 
tritest homily, of the baldest poem, that inculcated that imperish- 
able essence of the soul to which I have neither scalpel nor probe — 
than be the founder of the subtlest school, or the framer of the 
loftiest verse, that robbed my feUow-men of their faith in a spirit 
that eludes the dissec ting-knife, in a being that escapes the grave- 
digger. Burn vour Book — Accept this Book instead; Bead and 
Pray." 

He placed his Bible in my hand, embraced me, and, an hour af- 
terwards, the old man and the child left my hearth solitary once 
more. 



CHAPTER XLVII. 

That night, as I sat in my study, very thoughtful and very 
mournful, I revolved all that Julius Faber had said, and the im- 
pression his words had produced, became gradually weaker and 
weaker, as my reason, naturally combative, rose up with all the 
replies which my philosophy suggested. No ! if my imagination 
had really seduced and betrayed me into monstrous credulities, it 
was clear that the best remedy to such morbid tendencies towards 
the Superstitious, was in the severe exercise of the facnlties most 
opposed to Superstition ; in the culture of pure reasoning; in the 
science of absolute fact. Accordingly, I placed before me the 
very book which Julius Faber had advised me to burn ; I forced 
all my powers of mind to go again over the passages wuich con- 
tained the doctrines that his admonition had censured ; and, be- 
fore day-break, I had stated the substance of his argument, and 
the logical reply to it, in an elaborate addition to my chapter on 



A STRANGE STORY. 211 

" Sentimental Philosophers." While thus reflecting the purport 
of his parting- counsels, I embodied in another portion of my work, 

his views mi my own' "illusions," and as here my common sense 
was in concord with his, I disposed of all my own previous doubts 
in an addition In my favorite chapter "On the Cheats of the Im- 
agination." And when the pen dropped from my hand, and the 
day-star gleamed through the window, my heart escaped from the 
labor of my mind, and flew hack to the image of Lilian. The 
pride of the philosopher died out of me, the sorrow of the man 
reigned supreme, and 1 shrank from the coming of the sun, de- 
spondent. 



CHAPTER XLVIIL 

Not till the law had completed its proceedings and satisfied, fche 
public mind as to the murder of Sir Philip Derval, were the re- 
mains of the deceased consigned to the family mausoleum. The 
funeral was, as may he supposed, strictly private, and when i, 
was over, the excitement caused by an event so tragical and sin- 
gular, subsided. New topics engaged the public talk, and — in 
my presence, at least — the delicate consideration due to one whose 
name had been so painfully mixed up in the dismal story, forb ire 
a topic which I could not be expected to hear without, distressful 
emotion. Airs. Ashleigh I saw frequently at my own house ; she 
honestly confessed that Lilian had not shown that grief at the 
cancelling of our engagement, which would alone justify Mrs. 
Ashleigh in asking me again to see her daughter, and retract my 
conclusions against our union. She said that Lilian was quiet, 
not uncbeerful, never spoke of me nor of Margrave, hut seemed 
absent and preoccupied as before, taking pleasure in nothing that 
had heen wont to please her; not in music, nor hooks, nor that 
tranquil pastime which women call work, and in which they find 
excuse to meditate, in idleness, their own fancies. She rarely 
stirred out — even in the garden — when she did, her eyes seemed 
to avoid the house in which .Margrave had lodged, and her steps 
to the old favorite haunt by the Monks' Well. She would remain 
silent for long hours together, hut the silence did not appear me- 
lancholy. For the rest, her health was more than usually good. 
Sti'd,_ Mrs. Ashleigh persisted in her belief that, sooner or later, 
Lilian would return to her former self, her former sentiments for 
me, and she entreated me not as yet inlet the world know that 
our engagement was broken off. ''Forif," said she, with good 
sense, "if it should prove not to he broken off, only suspended, 
and afterwards happily renewed., there will be two stories to tell. 
when no story is needed. Besides, I should dread the effect on 



212 A STRANGE STORY. 

Lilian, if offensive gossips babbled to her on a matter that would 
excite so much curiosity as the rupture of a union in winch our 
neighbors have taken so general an interest." 

I had no reason to refuse acquiescence in Mrs. Ashleigh's re- 
quest, but I did not share in her hopes; I felt that the fair pros- 
pects of my life were blasted ; I could never love another, never 
wed another; I resigned myself to a solitary hearth, rejoiced, at 
least, that Margrave had not revisited at Mrs. Ashleigh's ; had 
not, indeed, reappeared in the town. He was still staying with 
Strahan, who told me that his guest had ensconced himself in 
Forman's old study, and amused himself with reading — though 
not long at a time — the curious old books and manuscripts 
found in the library, or climbing trees like a schoolboy, and fami- 
liarizing himself with the deer and the cattle, which would group 
round him quite tame, and feed from his hand. Was this the de- 
scription of a criminal 1 But if Sir Philip's assertion were really 
true ; if the criminal were man without soul ; if without soul, man 
would have no conscience, never be troubled by repentance, and 
the vague dread of a future world, — why, then, should not the 
criminal be gay despite his crimes, as the white bear gambols as 
friskily after his meal on human flesh 1 These questions would 
haunt me despite my determination to accept as the right solu- 
tion of all marvels the construction put on my narrative by Julius 
Faber. 

I'ays passed ; I saw and heard nothing of Margrave! I be- 
gan half to hope that, in the desultory and rapid changes of mood 
and mind which characterized his restless nature, he had forgot- 
ten my existence. 

One morning, I went out early on my rounds, when I met 
Strahan unexpectedly. 

" I was in search of you," he said " for more than one person 
has told me that you are looking ill and jaded. So you are ! 
And the town now is hot and unhealthy. You must come to 
Derval Court for a week or so. You can ride into town every day 
to see jour patients. Don't refuse. Margrave, who is still with 
me, sends all kind messages, and bade me say that he entreats 
you to come to the house at which he also is a guest ! " 

I started. What had the Scin-Lroca required of me, and ob- 
tained to that condition my promise ? " If you are asked to the 
house at which I also am a guest, you will come ; you will meet 
and converse with me as guest speaks to guest in the house of a 
host ! " Was this one of the coincidences which my reason was 
bound to accept as coincidences and nothing more ? Tut, tut ! 
Was I returning again to my "hallucinations?" Granting that 
Faber and common sense were in the right, what was this Mar- 
grave ? A man to whose friendship, acuteness, and energy I was 
under the deepest obligations ; to whom I was indebted for active 
services that had saved my life from a. serious danger, acquitted 



A STRANGE STORY. 213 

my honor of a- horrible suspicion. " I thank you," I said to 
Strahan, " I will come ; not, indeed, for a week, but, at all events, 
for a day or two." 

" That's right; I will call for you in the carriage at six o'clock. 
You will have done your day's work by then 1 " 

" Yes, I will so arrange." 

On our way to Derval Court thai evening, Strahan talked much 
about Margrave, of whom, nevertheless, he seemed to be growing 
weary. 

" His high spirits are too much for one," said he ; " and then so 
rest less — so incapable oi' sustained quiet conversation. And 
clever though lie is, he can't help me in the least about the new 
house I shall build. He has no notion of construction. I don't 
think he could build a barn." 

" I thought you did not like to demolish the old house, and 
would content yourself with pulling down the more ancient part 
of it ? " 

"True. At first it seemed a pity to destroy so handsome a 
mansion ; but you see, since poor Sir Philip's manuscript, on 
which he set such store, has been too mutilated, I fear, to allow 
in:' to aflfeol his wish with regard to it, I think I ought, at least, 
scrupulously to pbey his oilier whims. And, besides — I don't 
know — there are odd noises about the old house. I don't believe 
in haunted houses, still there is somethingdreary in strange sounds 
at the dead of night, even if made by rats, or winds through de- 
caying rafters. You. 1 remember at college, had a taste for archi- 
tecture, and can draw plans. I wish to follow out Sir Philip's de- 
signs, but on a smaller scale and with more attention to comfort." 

Thus he continued to run on, satisfied to find me a silent and 
attentive listener. We arrived at the mansion an hour before 
sunset, the westering light shining full against the many windows 
(1 in mouldering pilasters, and making a general dilapida- 
tion of the whole place yet more mournfully evident, 

It was but a few minutes to the dinner-hour. I went up atonce 

to the room appropriated to me — not the one I had before occupied. 

Strahan had already got together a new establishment, I was 

,glad to find in the servant who attended mean old acquaintance. 

lie had been in my own employ when I first settled at L , and 

hit me to get married. He and his wife were now both in Strahan's 
service. He spoke warmly of his new master and his content- 
ment with his situation, while he unpacked my carpet-bag and as- 
sisted me to change my dress. But the chief object of his talk 
and his praise was Mr. Margrave. 

■■ Such a bright young gentleman, like the first fine day in May !" 

When 1 entered the drawing-room, Margrave and Strahan were 
both then-. The former was blithe and genial, as usual, in his 
welcome. At dinner, and during the whole evening till we retired 
severally to our own rooms, he was the principal talker,; recount- 



214 A STRANGE STORY. 

ing incidents of travel, always very loosely strung together, jesting, 
good humoredly enough, at Strahan's sudden hobby for building, 
then putting questions to me about mutual acquaintances, but 
never wailing for an answer, and every now and then, as if at ran- 
dom, startling us with some brilliant aphorism or some suggestion 
drawn from abstract science or unfamiliar erudition. The whole 
effect was sparkling, but I could well understand, that if long con- 
tinued, it would become oppressive. The soul has need of pauses 
of repose — intervels of escape, not only from the flesh, but even 
from the mind. A man of the loftiest intellect will experience 
times when mere intellect not only fatigues him, bat amidst its 
most, original conceptions, amidst its proudest triumphs, has a 
something trite and common-place compared with one of those 
vague intimations of a spiritual destiny which are not within the 
ordinary domain of reason ; and, gazing abstractedly into space, 
will leave suspended some problem of severest though!, or uncom- 
pleted some golden palace of imperial poetry, to indulge in hazy 
reveries that do not differ from those of an innocent quiet child ! 
The soul has a long road to travel — from time through eternity. 
It demands its halting hours of contemplation. Contemplation is 
serene. But with such wants of an immortal immaterial spirit, 
Margrave had no fellowship, no sympathy ; and for myself, I need 
scarcely add that the lines I have just traced 1 should not have 
written at the date at which my narrative has now arrived. 



CHAPTEK XLIX. 

I had no case that necessitated my return to L the follow- 
ing day. The earlier hours of the forenoon I devoted to Strahan 
and his building plans. Margrave flitted in and out of the room 
fitfully as an April sunbeam, sometimes flinging himself on a sofa 
and reading for a few minutes one of the volumes of the ancient 
mystics, in which Sir Philip's library was so rich. I remember it 
was a volume of Proclus. He read that crabbed and difficult 
Greek with a fluency that surprised me. " I picked up the ancient 
Greek," said he, "years ago, in learning the modern." But the 
book soon tired him ; then he would come and disturb us, archly 
enjoying Strahan's peevishness at interruption ; then he would 
throw open the window and leap down, chanting one of his wild 
savage airs ; and in another moment he was half hid under the 
drooping boughs of a broad lime-tree, amidst the antlers of deer 
that gathered fondly round him. In the afternoon my host was 
called away to attend some visitors of importance, and I found 
myself on the sward before the house, right in view of the mauso- 
leum, and alone with Margrave. 



v A STRANGE STORY. 21£ 

I turned ray eyes from that Dumb House of Death wherein rest- 
ed the corpse of the last lord of the soil, so strangely murdered, 
with a strong desire to speak out to Margrave the doubts respect- 
ing himself that tortured me. But; selling aside the promise to 
the contrary, which I had given, or dreamed I had given, to the 
Luminous Shadow — to fulfil that desire would have been impossi- 
ble — impossible to any one gazing on that radiant, youthful face I 
1 think 1 see him now as 1 saw him then ; a white doc, that even 
my presence could not scare away from him, clung lovingly to his 
side, looking up at him with her sofl eyes. He stood there like the 
incarnate principle of mythological sensuous life. 1 have before 
applied tit him* that illustration; let the repetition be pardoned. 
Impossible, i repe.it it, to say to that creature, face to faoe» 4 Ar1 
then the master of demonjae arts and the instigator of sefcret mur- 
der I " As if from redundant happiness within himself, he was 
humming, or rather cooing, a strain of music, so sweet, so sweet, 
SO wildly sweet, and so unlike the music one hears from tutored 
lips in crowded rooms ! 1 passed my hand over my forehead in 
bewilderment and awe. 

'•Are there," I said,- unconsciously — -'are there, indeed, such 
prodigies in .Nature ? " 

"Mature ! " he cried, catching up the word; "talk to me of 
Nature! Talk of her. the wondrous blissful Mother! Mother 1 

may well call her. I am her Spoiled child, her darling But 

oh, to die, ever to die, ever to lose sight of Nature ! — to rot. sense- 
less, whether under these turi's. Or within those dead walls " 

i could not resist the answer : 

" Like yon murdered hum ! Murdered, and by whom V 
■ "By whom? 1 thought it was clearly proved V 

" The hand was proved ; what influence moved the hand?" 

"Tush ! The poor wretoh spoke oi' a demon. Who can tell ? 
Nature herself is a grand destroyer. See that pretty bird, in its 
beak a writhing worm! All Nature's children live to take life;* 
Done, indeed, so lavishly as man. What hetacombs slaughtered, 
not to satisfy the irresistible sting of hunger, but for the wanton 
ostentation of a feast, which he may scarcely taste, or for the mere 
sport that he finds in destroying. We speak with dread of the 
beasts ef prey : what beast of prey is so dire a ravager as man ! 
'$■■> cruel and so treacherous j Look at yon flock of sheep, bred 
and fattened for the shambles; and this hind that I caress — if I 



May I be pardoned, since Allen Fenwick does not confute, in his reply, 
the triic fallacy contained in Margrave's remarks on the destroying agencj of 
Nature, it' I earnestly commend to the general reader the careful perusal of 
chapter xiii., page 129, of Dr. Buckland's Bridgewater Treattjse (Geology and 
Mineralogy) on the " Aggregate of animal enjoyment increased, and that of 
pain diminished, by the existence of carnivorous races." Nothing to my mind 
can surpass the terseness and simplicity with which the truth of that proposi- 
tion is worked out to tho vindication of the great drama [of universal life. 



216 A STRANGE STORY. « 

were the park-keeper, and her time for my bullet had come, would 
you think her life was the safer because, in my own idle whim, I 
had tamed her to trust to the hand raised to slay her 1 " 

" It is true." said I, " a grim truth. Nature, on the surface so 
loving and so gentle, is full of terror in her deeps when our thought 
descends into their abyss !" 

Strahan now joined us with a party of country visitors. ' 

" Margrave is the man to show you the beauties of this park," 
said he. " Margrave knows every bosk and dingle, twisted old 
thorn-tree, or opening glade, in its intricate, undulating ground." 

Margrave seemed delighted at this proposition, and as he led us 
through the park, though the way was long, though the sun was 
fierce, -no one seemed fatigued. For the pleasure he felt in pointing 
out detached beauties which escaped an ordinary eye was con- 
tagious. He did not talk as talks the poet or the painter ; but a£ 
some lovely effect of light among the* tremulous leaves, some sud- 
den glimpse of a sportive rivulet below, he would halt, point it out. 
to us in silence, and with a kind of childlike ecstacy in his own 
bright face, that seemed to reflect the life and the bliss of the 
blithe summer-day itself. 

Thus seen, all my doubts in his dark secret nature faded away ; 
all my horror, all my hate; it was impossible to resist the charm 
that breathed round him, not to feel a tender, affectionate yearning 
towards him as to some fair happy child. Well might he call him 
self the Darling of Nature. Was he not the mysterious likeness 
of that/ awful Mother, beautiful as Apollo in one aspect, direful as 
Typhon in another ? 



CHAPTER L. 



" What a strange looking cane you have, sir," said a little girl, 
who was one of the party, and who had entwined her arm round 
Margrave's. " Let me look at it 1" 

"Yes," said Strahan; "that cane, or rather walking-staff, is 
worth looking at. Margrave bought it in Egypt, and declares tha^. 
it is very ancient." 

This staff seemed constructed from a reed ; looked at, it seemed 
light, in the hand it felt heavy ; it was of a pale, faded yellow, 
wrought with black rings at equal distances, and graven with half 
obliterated characters that seemed hieroglyphic. 1 remembered to 
have seen Margrave with it before, but I had never noticed it with 
any attention till now, when it was passed from hand to hand. At 
the head of the cane there was a large unpolished stone of a dark 
blue. 



A STRANGE STORY. 217 

* " Is this a pebble or a jewel ? " asked one of the parly. 

" I cannot tell you its name or nature." said Margrave, " but 
it is said to cure the bite of serpents,* and has other supposed vir- 
tues — a talisman, in short." 

He here placed the stall* in my hands, and bade me look at it 
with care. Then he changed the conversation, and renewed the 
way, leaving the staff with me, till suddenly, I forced it back on 
him. I COittld not have explained why. but its touch, as it warm- 
ed in my clasp, seemed to send through ray whole frame a singu- 
lar I brill, and a sensation as if I no longer felt my own weight — 
as if I walked on air. 

Our rambles came to .a close; the visitors went away; I re- 
entered the house through the sash-window of Forman's study ; 
Margrave threw his hat and stall" on the table, and amused himself 
wilh examining minutely the tracery on the mantlepiece. Stratian 
and myself left him thus occupied, and going into the adjoining 
library, resumed our task of examining the plans for the new 
ho se. I continued to draw outlines and sketches of various altera- 
tions tending to simplify and contract Sir Philip's general design. 
Margrave soon joined us, and. this time, took his seat patiently !><•- 



* The fallowing description of a stone at Corfu, celebrated as an antidote 
to the venom <>i the serpent's bite, was given to me by an eminent schlar and 
legal functionary in that island : 

"Description of the Blue Stone.— This stone is of an oval shape, 

one inch a ml two-tenths long, seven-tenths broad, tl is thick, and, hav- 

ing been broken formerly, is now set in gold. 

" When ;i pers n is bitten by a poisonous snake, the bite must be 
a lancet or razor long ways, ami tin 1 stone applied within twenty-four hours. 

The stone then attaches itself firmly on The wound, and when it has don< 

office falls off; the euro is then complete. The stone most be thrown into 
milk, whereupon if vomits the poison it has absorbed, which remains 
on the top of the milk, and the stone is then again lit for use. 

"This stone has been from time immemorial in the family of Ventura, of 
Corfu, a house of Italian origin, and is notorious, so that peasants immediately 
apply for its aid. Its virtue has not been impaired by the fracture. lis na- 
ture or composition is unknown. 

"In a easo where two wen- stung at the same time by serpen;,-:, the stone 
applied to one who recovered, bul the other, for whom it could not, bo 
used, died. 

•• It never failed but once, and then it was applied after the twenty-four 
hours. 

color is so dark as not to bo distinguished from black. 

" ]'. M. COLQUHOUN. 

"Corfu, ?lh N.-, 

Sir EmersottTenni at, in hie popular and excellent work on Ceylon, gives 

an account of " snake stones" apparently similar to the one ai Corfu, except 
that thej arc "intensely black and highly polished," and which .-ire applied, 
in much the same manner, to t he wounds inflicted by the cobra Cape 1 la. 

iry — Slight it not be worth while to ascertain the chemical properti 

th' e stones, and, if they be efiicaeioii racti f venom conveyed 

by a bite, might tBey no; be as sin pplied to 

pella ' 



218 A STRANGE STORY. 

side our table, watching me use ruler and compass with unwonted ' 
attention. 

" I wish I could draw," he said, "but I can do nothing useful," 

"Rich men like you," said Strahan, peevishly, " can engage 
others, and are better employed in rewarding good artists than in 
making bad drawings themselves." 

" Yes, I can employ others ; and — Fenwick, when you have 
finished with Strahan, I will ask permission to employ you, though 
without reward ; the task I wou.d impose will not take you a 
minute." 

He then threw himself back in his chair, and seemed to fall into 
a dnze. 

The dressing-bell rang ; Strahan put away the plans — indeed, 
they were now pretty well finished and decided on. 

JJargrave woke up as our host left the room to dress, and draw- 
ing me towards another table in the room, placed before me one of 
his favorite mystic books, and, pointing to an old wood-cut, said : 

" I will ask you to copy this for me ; it pretends to be a fac- 
simile of Solomon's famous seal. I have a whimsical desire to 
have a copy of it. You observe two-triangles interlaced and in- 
serted in a circle ? The pentacle, in shor. t. Yes, just so. You 
need not add the asirologieal characters, they are the senseless 
superfluous accessories of the dreamer who wrote the book. But 
the pentacle itself has an intelligent meaning ; it belongs to the 
only universal language, the language of symbol, in which all races 
that think — around, and above, and below us — can establish com- 
munion of thought. If in the external universe any one construc- 
tive principle can be detected, it is the geometrical ; and in every 
part of the world in which magic pretends to a written character, 
♦I find that its hieroglyphics are geometrical figures. Is it not 
laughable that the most positive of all the sciences should thus 
lend its angles and circles lo the use of— what shall I call it 1 — the 
ignorance .' — ay, that is the word — the ignorance of dealers in 
magic ! " 

lie took up the paper on which I had hastily described the 
triangles and the circle, aud went out of the room, chanting the 
serpent-charmer's song. 



A STRANGE STORY. ' 219 



CHAPTER LI. 

WHEN we separated for the night, which we did at eleven O'clock, 
Margrave said : 

" Good night and good-by. I must leave you to-morrow, Stra- 
tum, and before your usual hour for rising. I took tbe liberty of 

requesting one of your men to order roe a chaise from L . 

Pardon my scorning abruptness, hut 1 always avoid long leave- 
takings, and I had fixed the date of my departure almost as soon 
as 1 accepted your invitation." 

" 1 have no right to complain. The place must he dull, indeed, 
to a gay young fellow like you. It is dull even to me. t am 
meditating flight already. Are you going hack to L -1 " 

"Not even tor such things as 1 left at my lodging. When L 
settle somewhere, and can give an address* I shall direct them to 
he sent to me. There arc, I hear, beautiful patches of scenery to- 
wards the north, only known to pedestrian tourists. I am a god 
walker; and you know. Fenwick, thai 1 am also a child of Na- 
ture. Adieu to both ; and many thanks to you. Strahan, for your 
hospitality." 

He left the room. 

•' 1 am not sorry he is going." said Strahan, after a pause, and 
with a quick breath as if of relief. " Do you not think that, he 
exhausts one.' An excess of oxygen, as you would say in a 
lecture 

1 was alone in my own chamber ; I felt. indisposed for bed and 
for sleep ; the curious conversation I had held with Margrave 
weighed on me. in that conversation, we had indirect !y touched 
upon the prodigies which I had not brought myself to speak of 
with frau:; courage, and certainly nothing in Margrave's manner 
had betrayed consciousness of my suspicions ; on the contrary, the 
open frankness will) which he evinced his predilection for mystic 
speculation, or uttered his more unamiahle sentiments, rather 
tended to disarm than encourage belief in gloomy secrets or sinister 
powers. And he was about to quit the neighborhood, lie would not 

again see Lilian, not even enter the town of L- . Was 1 to 

ascribe this relief from his presence to the promise of the Shadow, 
or was I not rather right in battling firmly against any grotesque 
illusion and acceping his departure as a simple proof that my 
jealous fears had been amongst my ol her chimeras, and that he 
had really only visited Lilian out oi' friendship to me. in my peril, 
so he might with his characteristic acuteness, have guessed my 
jealousy, and ceased his visits from a kindly motive delicately con 



220 A STRANGE STORY. 

cealed 1 And might not the same motive now have dictated the 

words which were intended to assure me that L contained, no 

attractions to tempt him to return to it 1 Thus gradually soothed 
and cheered by the course to which my reflections led me, I con- 
tinued to muse for hours. At length, looking at my watch, I was 
surprised to find it was the second hour after midnight. I was just- 
about to rise from my chair to undress, and secure some hours of 
sleep, when the well-remembered cold wind passed through the 
room, stirring the roots of my hair, and before me stood, against 
the wall, the, Luminous Shadow. 

" Rise, and follow me," said the voice, sounding much nearer to 
me than it had ever done before. 
And at these words I rose mechanically, and like a sleep-walker. 
♦'Take up the light." 
I took it. 

The Scin-Lseca glided along the wall toward the threshold, and 
motioned to me to open the door. I did so. The Shadow flitted 
on through the corridor. 1 followed, with hushed footsteps, down 
a small stair into Formatvs study. In all my subsequent proceed- 
ings, about to be narrated, the Shadow guided me, sometimes by 
voice, sometimes by sign. I obeyed the guidance not only unre- 
sistingly, but without a desire to resist. I was unconscious either of 
curiosity or of awe — only of a calm and passive indifference, neither 
pleasurable nor painful. In this obedience, from which all will 
seemed extracted, I took into my hands the staff' which 1 had ex- 
amined the day before, and which lay on the table, just where 
Margrave had cast it on reentering the house. I unclosed the shut- 
ter to the casement, lifted the sash, and, with the light in my left 
hand, the staff' in my right, stepped forth into the garden. The 
night was still ; the flame of the candle scarcely trembled in the 
air ; the Shadow moved, on before me towards the old pavilion de- 
scribed in an earlier part of this narrative, and of winch the mould- 
ering doors stood wide open. 1 followed the Shadow into, the 
pavilion, up the crazy stair to the room above, with its four great 
blank, onglazed windows, or rather arcades, north, south, east, and 
west. 1 halted on the middle of the floor. Right before my eyes, 
through the vista made by breathless boughs, stood out from 
the moonlit air the dreary mausoleum. Then, at the command 
conveyed to me, I placed the candle on a wooden settle, touched a 
spring in the handle of the staff, a lid flew back, and I drew from 
the hollow, first a lump of some dark bituminous substance, next a 
small slender wand, of polished steel, of which the point was tipped 
with a translucent material which appeared to mo like crystal. — 
Bending down, still obedient to the direction conveyed to me, I 
described on the floor with the lump of bitumen (if I may so call 
it) the figure of the pentacle with the interlaced triangles, in a 
circle nine feet in diameter, just as I had drawn it for Margrave 
the evening before. The material used made the figure perceptible, 



A STRANGE STORY. '22 J 

in a dark color of mingled black and red. I applied the flame of 
the candle to the circle, and immediately it became lambent with 
a low steady splendor that rose about an inch from the floor, ajid 
gradually from this light there emanated a soft grey transparent 

mist and a faint but exquisite odor. I stood in the midst of the 
circle, and within the circle also, close by my side, stood the Scin- 
Lseca; no longer reflected on the wall, but apart from it. erect, 
rounded into more integral and distinct form, yet impalpable, am! 
from it there breathed an icy air. Then lifting the wand, the 
broader end of which rested in the palm of my band, the two fore- 
fingers closing lightly over it in a line parallel with the point, i 
directed it towards the wide aperture before me. fronting the mau- 
soleum. J repeated aloud some words whispered to me in a 
language L knew not : those words I would not trace on this paper 
could 1 remember them. As they came to a close, 1 heard a howl 
from the watch-dog in the yard — a dismal, lugubrious howl. Other 
dogs in the distant village caught up the sound, and bayed in a 

like chorus; and i,he howling went on, louder and louder. — 
Again strange words were whispered to me, and I repeated them 
in mechanical submission ; ami when they, too, were ended, I felt 
the ground tremble beneath me, and as my eyes looked straight 
forward down the vista, that, stretching from the casement, was 
bounded by the solitary mausoleum, vague formless shadows seem- 
ed to pass across the moonlight — below, along the sward — above, 
in the air: and then suddenly a terror, not before, conceived, came 
upon me. 

nd a third tame words were whispered ; but though I knew no 
more of their meaning than I did of those that had preceded them. 

;; repugnance to utter them aloud. Mutely 1 turned towards 
the Scin-Laeca, and the expression of its face was menacing and 
my will became yet more compelled to the control im- 
i upon it, and my lips commenced the formula again whispi red 
into my ear, when I heard distinctly a voice of warning and of' 
lish, that murmured "Hold !" I knew the voice; it was 
Lilian's. 1 paused — 1 turned towards the quarter from which the 
voice had come, and in tin' space afar I saw the. features, the form 
of Lilian. Her aims were stretched towards me in supplication, 
her countenance was deadly pale and anxious with unutterable dis- 
tress. The whole image seemed in unison with the voice; — the 
look, the attitude, gesture, of cue who sees another in deadly peril, 
and cries " Beware !" 

Tiiis apparition vanished in a moment ; but that moment sufficed 
to free my mind from the constraint which had before enslaved it. 
I dashed ihe wand to the ground, sprang from the circle, rushed 
from the place. How 1 got into my own room I can remember 
not — 1 know not ; 1 have at ague reminiscenoe of some intervening 
wandering, of giant trees, of shroud-like moonlight, of the Shining 
Shadow and its angry aspect, of the blind walls and iron door of 



2 22 A STRANGE STORY. 

the House of the Dead, of spectral images — a confused and dreary 
phantasmagoria. But all I 'can call with distinctness is the 
sight of my own hueless face in the mirror in my own still room, 
by the light of the white moon through the window ; and sinking 
down, J said to myself, " This, at least, is an hallucination or a 
dream !" 



CHAPTER LIT 



A heavy sleep came over me at daybreak, but I did not undress 
nor go to bed. The. sun was high in the heavens when, on waking, 
1 saw the servant, who had attended me, bustling about the room. 

" 1 beg your pardon, srr, I am afraid I disturbed you ; but I have 
been three times to see if you were not coming down, and found 
you so soundly -asleep I did not like to wake you. Mr. Strahan 
lias finished breakfast, and gone out riding;, Mr. Margrave has 
left — left before six o'clock." 

" Ah, he said he was going early." 

" Yes sir; and he seemed so cross when he went. I could never 
have supposed so pleasant a gentleman could have put himself into 
such a passion !" 

" What was- the matter?" 

"Why, his walking-stick could not be found ; it was not in the 
hall. lie said he had left' it in the study ; we could not find it 
there. At last he found it himself in the old summer-house, and 
said — I beg pardon, he said — ' he was sure you had taken it there ; 
that, some one, at all events, had been meddling with it.' How- 
ever, 1 am very glad it was found, since he seemed to set such 
store on it," 

" Did Mr. Margrave go himself into the summer-house to look 
for it V 

" Yes, sir ; no one else would have thought of such a place ; no 
one likes to go there even in the davtime." 

'■ Why V 

" Why, sir, they say it is haunted since poor Sir Philip's death ; 
and, indeed, there are strange noises in every part of the house. I 
am afraid you had a bad night, sir," continued the servant, with 
evident curiosity glancing towards the bed. which I had not pressed, 
and towards the evening dress, which, while he spoke, I was rap- 
idly changing for that which I habitually wore in the morning. — 
" 1 hope you did not feel yourself ill V 

" No ; but it seems I fell asleep in my chair." 

" Did you hear, sir, how the dogs howled about two o'clock in 
the morning. They woke me. Very frightful !" 

" The moon was at her full. Dogs will bay the moon." 



A STRANGE STORY. 823 

I felt relieved to think that 1 should not find Strahan in the 
breakfast-room, and hastening through the ceremony of a meal 
which I scarcely touched, 1 went out into the park unobserved, and 
creeping round the copses and into the neglected garden, made my 
way to the.pavilion. 1 mounted the stairs — I looked on the floor 
of the upper room ; yes, there, still was the black figure of the 
pentacle — the circle. So, then, it was not a dream ! Till then 1 
had doubted. Or might it not still be so far a dream, that I had 
walked in my sleep, and, with an imagination preoccupied by my 
conversations with Margrave — by the hieroglyphics on the staff 1 
had handled, by the very figure associated with superstitious prac- 
tices which J had copied from some weird book at his request, h\ 
all the strange impressions previously stamped on my mind — might 
i not, in truth, have carried th.it her in sleep the staff, described 
the circle, and all the rest been but visionary delusion ( Surdy — 
surely, so common sense and so Julius Paber would interpret the 
riddles thai perplexed me. Be that as it may, my first thought 
was to efface the marks on the floor. 1 found this easier than 1 
had ventured to hope. I rubbed the circle and (he pentacle away 
from the hoards with ihe sole of my loot, leaving but an uudis- 
tinguishablc smudge behind. 1 know not why, but I fell the more 
nervously anxious to remove ail such evidences of my nocturnal 
visit to that room, because .Margrave had so openly gone thither 
In Beek for the staff, and had so rudely named me to the servant as 
having meddled with it. Might he not awake some suspicion 
against niel Suspicion, of "what? I knew not, but I feared! 

The healthful air of day gradually nerved my spirits and relieved 
my thoughts. But the place had become hateful to inc. 1 resolved 

not to wait for Strahan's return, but to walk back to L , and 

leave a message for my host. It was sufficient excuse that 1 could 
not longer absent myself from my patients; accordingly, i gave 
directions to have a few things which I had brought with me sent 

to my house by any servant who might be going to L , and 

was soon pleased to find myself outside the park gates and on the 
high road. 

1 had not gone a mile before 1 met Strahan on horseback. He 
received my apologies for not waiting his return to bid him fare- 
well, without observation, and, dismounting, led his horse and 
walked beside me on my road. 1 saw that there was something on 
his mind; at hist he said, looking down, 

'• Did you hear the dogs howl last night \" 

- \ « s ! the full moon !" 

" You were awake, then, at the time. Did yon hear any other 
sound '. Did you see anything?" 

" What should 1 hear or si 

Strahan was silent for some moments; then he said, with 
great seriousn . 

" I could not sleep when I went to bed last night; I felt feverish 



224 A STRANGE STORY. 

and restless. Somehow or other, Margrave got into my head, 
mixed up in a strange way, with Sir Philip Derval. I heard the 
dogs howl, and at the same time, or rather a few minutes later, I 
felt the whole house tremble, as a frail corner house in London 
seems to tremble at night when a carriage is driven past it. The 
howling had then ceased, and ceased as suddenly as it had begun. 
I felt a vague superstitious alarm ; I got up, and went to my 
window, which was unclosed (it is my habit to sleep with my 
windows open) — the moon was very bright — and I saw, I de- 
clare I saw. along the green valley that leads from the old part of 
the house to the mausoleum — Xo, I will not say what I saw or be- 
lieved 1 saw — you would ridicule me, and justly. But, whatever 
ir might be, on the earth without or in the fancy within my brain, 
so terrified, that I rushed back to my bed, and buried my 
faee in my pillow. I would have come to you ; but I did not 
dare to stir. I have been riding hard all the morning in order 
to recover my nerves. But I dread sleeping again under that 
roof, and now that you and Margrave leave me, I shall go this 
very day to London. I hope all that I have told you is no bad 
sign of coming disease ; blood to the head, eh ?" 

"No; but, imagination overstrained can produce wondrous ef- 
fects. You do right to change the scene. Go to London at once, 
amuse yourself, and -" 

'• Not return till the old house is razed to the ground. That is 
my resolve. You approve ? That's well. All success to you, 
Fenwick. I will canter back, and get my portmanteau ready and 
the carriage out in lime for the five o'clock I rain." 

So, then, he, too, had seen — what? I did not dare and did not 
desire to ask him. But he, at least., was not walking in his sleep ! 
Did we both dream, or neither? 



CHAPTER LIII. 



There is an instance of the absorbing tyranny of every day 
life which must have struck all such of my readers as have ever 
experienced one of those portents which are so at variance with 
every-day life, that the ordinary epithet bestowed on them is 
" supernatural." 

And be my readers few or many, there will be no small propor- 
tion of them to whom, at once, at least, in the course of their ex- 
istence, a something strange and cirie has occurred — a something 
•which perplexed and baffled rational conjecture, and struck on 
those chords which vibrate to superstition. It may have been only 



A S'l'KA.N'UE STORY. 226 

a dream unaccountably verified, an undefiuable presentiment or 
forewarning; hut up from such slighter and vaguer tokens 01 the 
realm of marvel — up to the portents of ghastly apparitions or 
haunted chambers, I believe that the greater number of persons 
arrived at middle age, however instructed the class, however 
civilized the land, however sceptical the period, to which they 
belong, have either in themselves experienced, or heard recorded 
by intimate associates whose veracity they accept as indisputa- 
ble in all ordinary transactions of life — phenomena which are not 
to be solved by the wit that mocks them, nor. perhaps, always 
and entirely to the contentment of the reason or the philosophy 
that explains them away. Such phenomena. 1 say, are infinitely 
more numerous than would appear from the instances currently 
quoted and dismissed with a jest, for few of those who have wit- 
nessed them are disposed to own it, and they who only hear of 
them through others, however trustworthy, would not impugn their 
character for common sense by professing a belief to which com- 
mon sense is a merciless persecutor. But he who reads my asser- 
tion in the quiet of his own room will, perhaps, pause, ransack his 
memory, and find there in some dark corner which lie excludes 
from "the babbling and remorseless day," a pale recollection that 
proves the assertion iw>t untrue. 

And it is, 1 say. an instance of the absorbing tyranny of every- 
day life thai wlfcmever some such startling incident disturbs ita 
regular tenor of thought and occupation, that same everyday life 
hastens to bury in its sands the object which has troubled its sur- 
face; the more unaccountable, the more prodigious has been the 
phenomenon which has scared and astounded us; the more, with 
involuntary effort, the mind sce'.s to rid itself of an enigma which 
might disease the reason that tries to solve it, We go about 
our mundane business with renewed avidity ; we feel the necessity 
of proving to ourselves that we are still sober practical men, and 
refuse io he unfitted for the world which we know, by unsolicited 
Visitations from worlds into which every glimpse is soon lost amid 
shadifws. And it amazes us to think how soon such incidents, 
though not actually forgotten, though they can be recalled — and 
recalled .too vividly for health — at our will. are, nevertheless, thrust 
as it were, out of the mind's sight, as we cast into lumher-rooms 
the crutches and splints that remind us of a broken limb which has 
recovered its strength and tone. It is a felicitous peculiarity in our 
organization, which all members of my profession'will have noticed. 
bow soon, when a bodily pain is once past, it becomes erased from 
the recollection, how soon, and how invariably the mind refuses to 
linger over and recall it. No man freed an hour before from a ra- 
ging toothache, the rack of a neqralgia, seats himself in his arm- 
chair to reei, lied and ponder upon the anguish he has undergone. 
It is l In- same with certain afflictions of the mind — not with those 
that strike on our affections, or blast our fortunes, overshadowing 
15 



226 A STRANGE STORY. 

our whole future with a sense of loss — but where a trouble or ca- 
lamity has been an accident, and episode in our wonted life, where 
it affects ourselves alone, where it is attended with a sense of shame 
and humiliation, where the pain of recalling it seems idle, and if 
indulged would almost madden us ; agonies of that kind we do not 
brood over as we do over the death or falsehood of beloved friends, 
or the train of events by which we are reduced from wealth to 
penury. No one, for instance, who has escaped from a shipwreck, 
from the brink of a precipice, from the jaws of a tiger, spends 
his days and nights in reviving his terrors past, re-imagining dan- 
gers not to occur again, or, if they do occur, from which the ex- 
perience undergone cau suggest no additional safeguards. The 
current of our life, indeed, like that of the rivers, is most rapid in 
the midmost channel, where all streams are alike, comparatively 
slow in the depth and along the shores in which each life, as each 
river, has a character peculiar to itself. And hence, those who 
would sail with the tide of the world, as those who sail with the 
tide of a river, hasten to take the middle of the stream, as those 
who sail against the tide are found clinging to the shore. I re- 
turned to my habitual duties and avocations with renewed energy ; 
I did not suffer my thoughts to dwell on the dreary wonders that 
had haunted me, from the evening I first met Sir Philip Derval to 
the morning in which I had quitted the house of his heir ; whether 
realities or hallucinations, no guess of mine coufd unravel such 
marvels, and no prudence of mine guard me against their repeti- 
tion. But I had no fear that they would be repeated, any more 
than the man who has gone through shipwreck, or the hairbreadth 
escape from a fall down a glacier, fears again to be found in a simi- 
lar peril. Margrave had departed, whither I knew not, and, with 
his departure, ceased all sense of his influence. A certain calm 
within me, a tranquilizing feeling of relief, seemed to me like a 
pledge of permanent delivery. 

But that which did accompany and haunt me through all my 
occupations and pursuits, was the melancholy remembrance of 
the love I had lost in Lilian. I heard from Mrs. Ashleigli, who 
still frequently visited me, that her daughter seemed much in the 
same quiet state of mind — perfectly reconciled to our separation — 
seldom mentioning my name — if mentioning it, with indifference ; 
the only thing remarkable in her state was her aversion to all so- 
ciety, and a kind of lethargy that would come over her, often in 
the daytime. She would suddenly fall into sleep, and so remain 
for hours, but a sleep that seemed very serene and tranquil, and 
from which she woke of herself. She kept much within her own 
room, and always retired to it when visitors were announced. 

Mrs. Ashleigh b*egan reluctantly to relinquish the persuasion she 
had so long and so obstinately maintained that this state of feel- 
ing toward myself — and, indeed, this general change in Lilian — 
was but temporary and abnormal ; she began to allow that it was 



A STRANGE STORY. 227 

best to drop all thoughts of a renewed engagement — a future 
anion. I proposed to see Lilian in her presence and in my profes- 
sional capacity ; perhaps some physical cause, especially for this 
lethargy, might be detected and removed. Mrs. Ashleigh owned 
to me that the idea occurred to herself; she had sounded Lilian 
upon it ; bid her daughter had so resolutely opposed it ; had said 
With so quiet a firmness, "that all being over between US, a visit 
from me would be unwelcome and painful ;" that Mrs. Ashleigh 
felt that an interview thus deprecated would only confirm estrange- 
ment. One day, in calling, she asked my advice whether it would 
not he better to try the effect of change of air and scene, and, in 
some other place, some other medical opinion might be lakeu ! I 
approved of this suggestion with unspeakable sadness. 

"And," said Mrs. Ashleigh, shedding tears, "if that experi- 
ment prove unsuccessful, 1 will write and let you know ; and we 
must, then consider what to say to the world as a reason why the 
marriage is broken oft*. I can render this more easy by staying 

away. I will not return to L till the matter has ceased to be 

the topic of talk, and at a distance any excuse will be less ques- 
tioned and seem more natural. Bui still — still — let us iiope still." 

" Have you one ground fur hope 1" 

" Perhaps so; but you will think it very frail and fallacious." 

"Name it, and let me judge;" 

•• < hie nighl — in which you were on a visit to Derval Court — " 

"Ay, that night." 

"Lilian woke me by a loud cry (she sleeps in the next room to 
me, and the door was left open) ; I hastened to her bedside in 
alarm ; she was asleep, but appeared extremely agitated and con- 
vulsed. She kepi calling on your name in a tone of passionate 
fondness, but as if in great terror. She cried, 'Do not go, 
Allen! — donotrgo! — you know not what you brave! — what you 
do!' Then she rose in her bed, clasping her hands. Her face 
was set and rigid ; I tried to awake her, but could not. After a 
little time, she breathed a iW"^ sigh, and murmured, ' Allen, Allen ! 
dear love ! did you not hear.' — did you not. see me ] What could 
thus baffle matter and traverse space but love and soul? Canyon 
still doubt me, Allen ? Doubt that I love yon now, shall love you 
evermore ' Yonder, yonder, as here below .'" She then sank back 
on her pillow, weeping, and then 1 woke her." 

" Vnd what did she say on Waking .'" 

" She did not remember what she had dreamed, except that s\\i- 
had passed through some great terror — but added with a \ 
smile. ' It is over, and 1 fee] happy imw.' Then she turned round, 
and fell asleep again, but quietly as a child, the tears dried, the 
smile resting." 

"Go, my dear friend, go; take Lilian away from this place, as 
soon as you can : divert her mind with fresh scenes. 1 hope! — I 
do hope ! Let me know where you fix yourself. I will seize a 



228 A STRANGE STORY. 

holiday — I need one ; I will arrange as to my patients — I will 
come to the same place ; she need not know of it — but I must be 
by to watch, to hear your news of her. Heaven bless you for what 
you have said ! I hope ! — I do hope !" 



CHAPTER LIV. 



Some days after, I received a few lines from Mrs. Ashleigh. — 
Her arrangements for departure were made. They were to start 
the next morning. She had fixed on going into the north of De- 
vonshire, and staying some week either at Ilffacombe or Lynton, 
whichever place Lilian preferred. She would write as soon as 
they were settled. 

I was up at my usual early hour the next morning. I resolved 
to go out towards Mrs. Ashleigh's house, and watch, unnoticed, 
where I might, perhaps, catch a glimpse of Lilian as the carriage 
that would convey her to the railway passed my hiding-place. 

I was looking impatiently at the clock ; it was yet two hours 
before the train by which Mrs. Ashleigh proposed to leave. A 
hud ring at my bell ; I opened the door. Mrs. Ashleigh rushed 
in, falling on my breast. 

" Lilian ! Lilian!" 

" Heavens ! What has happened 1 " 

" She has left — she is gone — gone away ! Oh, Allen ! how ? — 
whither 1 Advise me. What is to be done V 

" Come in — compose yourself — tell me all — clearly, quickly. 
Lilian gone '( gone away 1 Impossible ! She must be hid some- 
where in the house — the garden ; she, perhaps, did not like the 
journey. She may have crept away to some young friend's house. 
But /talk when you should talk : tell me all." 

Little enough to tell ! Lilian had seemed unusually cheertul 
the night before, and pleased at the thought of the excursion. — 
Mother and daughter retired to rest early : Mrs. Ashleigh saw 
Lilian sleeping quietly before she herself went to bed. She woke 
betimes in the morning, dressed herself, went into .the next room 
to call Lilian — Lilian was not there. No suspicion of flight oc- 
curred to her. Perhaps her daughter might be up already, and 
gone down stairs, remembering something she might wish to pack 
and take with her on the journey. Mrs. Ashleigh was confirmed 
in this idea when she noticed that her own room door was left 
open. She went down stairs, met a maid-servant in the hall, who 
told her, with alarm and surprise, that both the street and garden 
doors were found unclosed. No one had seen Lilian. Mrs. Ash- 
leigh now became seriously uneasy. On remounting to her daugh- 



• A STRANGE STORY. 229 

ters room, she missed Lilian's bonnet and mantle. The house 
• and garden were both searched in vain. There cou'd be no doubt 
that Lilian had gone — must have stolen noiselessly at night 
through her mother's room, and let herself out of the house and 
through the garden. 

"Do you think she could have received any letter, any mes- 
sage, any visitor unknown to you ?" 

" I cannot think it. Why do you ask 1 Oh, Allen, you do not 
believe there is any accomplice in this disappearance ! No, yoa 
do not believe it. But my child's honor. What will the world 
think,?" 

Not for the world cared I at that moment. I could think only 
for Lilian, and without one suspicion that imputed blame to her. 

" Be quiet, be silent ; perhaps she has gone on some visit, and 
will return. Meanwhile, leave inquiry to me." 



CHAPTER LV. 



It seemed incredible that Lilian could wander far without being 
observed. I soon ascertained that she had not gone away by 
railway — by any public conveyance — had hired no carriage ; she 
must, therefore, be still in the town, or have left it on foot. The 
greater part of the day was consumed in unsuccessful inquiries, 
and faint hopes that she would return ; meanwhile, the news of 
her disappearance had spread ; how could such news fail to do so ? 

An acquaintance of mine met me under the archway of Monks' 
Gate. He wrung my hand, and looked at me with great compas- 
sion. 

" I fear," said he, " that we were all deceived in that young 
Margrave. He seemed so well conducted in spite of his lively 
manners. But " 

" But what .'" 

" Mrs. Ashleigh was, perhaps, imprudent to admit him into her 
house so familiarly. He was certainly very handsome. Young 
ladies will be romantic." 

" How dare you, sir !" I cried, choked with rage. " And with- 
out any coloring to so calumnious a suggestion ! Margrave has 
not been in the town for many days. No one knows even where 
he is."' 

" ( ) yes, it is known where he is. He wrote to order the effects 
which lie had left here to be sent to Penrith." 

'•When?" 

"The letter arrived the day before yesterday. I happened to 

be calling at the house where he last lodged when at L , the 

house opposite Mrs. Ashleigh's garden. No doubt the servants in 



230 A STRANGE STORY. • 

both houses gossip with each other. Miss Ashleigh could scarce- 
ly fail to hear of Mr. Margrave's address from her maid ; and 
since servants will exchange gossip, they may also convey letters. 
Pardon me, you know I am your friend." 

" Not from the moment you breathe a word against my be- 
trothed wife," said I. fiercely. 

1 wrenched myself from the clasp of the man's hand, but, his 
worda s'Mil rang in my ears. I mounted my horse; I rode into 
the adjoining suburbs, the neighboring villages ; there, however, I 
learned nothing till, just at nightfall, in a hamlet, about ten miles 

from L , a laborer declared he had seen a young lady drjessed 

as 1 described, who passed by him in a path through the fields a 
little before noon ; that he was surprised to see one so young, so 
well dressed, and a stranger to the neighborhood. (for he knew by 
sight the ladies of the few families scattered round) walking alone; 
that as he stepped out of the path to make way for her, he looked 
hard into her face, and she did not heed him — seemed to ^aze, 
right before, into space. If her expression had been less quiet* 
and gentle, he should have thought, he could scarcely say why, 
that she was no' quite right in her mind — there was a strange un- 
conscious stare in her eyes, as if she were walking in her sleep. — 
Her pace was very steady — neither quick nor slow. He had 
watched her till she passed out of sight, amidst a wood through 
which the path wound its way to a village at some distance. 

I followed up this clue. I arrived at the village to which my 
informant directed me, but night had set in. Mast of the houses 
were closed, so I could glean no further information from the cot- 
tages or at the inn. But the police superintendent of the district 
lived in the village, and to him I gave instruction, which I had not 
given, and indeed would have beeu disinclined to give, to the police 
at L . He was intelligent and kindly ; he promised to. com- 
municate at once with the dillereut police-stations for mites round, 
and with all delicacy and privacy. It was not probable that Lilian 
could have wandered in one day much further than the place at 
which 1 then was: it was scarcely to be conceived that she could 
baffle my pursuit, and the practised skill of the police. I rested 
but a few hours, at a small public-house, and was on horseback 
again at dawn. A little after sunrise, I again heard of the wan- 
derer. At a lonely cottage, by a brick-kiln, in the midst of a wide 
common, she had stopped the previous evening, and asked for a 
draught, of milk. The woman who gave it to her inquired if she 
had lost her way 1 She said, " No ;" and only tarrying a few 
minutes, had gone across the common ; and the woman supposed 
she was a visitor at a gentleman's house which was at the further 
end of the waste { for the path she took led to no town, no village. 
It occurred to me, then, that Lilian avoided all highroads, all 
places even the humblest, where men congregated together. But 
where could she have passed the night ? Not to fatigue the reader 



► A STRANGE STORY. 231 

with the fruitless result of frequent- inquiries, I will but say that at 
the end of the second day 1 had succeeded in ascertaining that I 
was si ill on her track : and though I had ridden to and fro nearly 
double the distance — coming hack again to places I had left be- 
hind — it was at the distance of forty miles from L that I last 

heard of her that second day. She had been sitting alone by a 
little brook only an hour before. 1 was led to the very spot by a 
woodman, — it was at the hour of twilight when he beheld her — 
she was leaning her face on her hand, and seemed weary. He 
spoke to her; she did not answer, but rose, and resumed her way 
along the banks of the streamlet. That night I put up at no inn ; 
I followed the course of the brook for miles, then struck into every 
path that I could conceive her to have taken— in vain. Thus I 
consumed the night on fool, lying my horse to a tree, for he was 
tired out, and reluming lo him at sunrise. At noon, the third day, 
I again heard of her, and in a remote savage part of the country. 
The features of the landscape were changed ; there was little 
foliage and little culture, but the ground was broken into mounds 
and hollows, and covered with patches of heath and stunted brush- 
wood. She had been seen by a shepherd, and be made the same 
observation as the first who had guided me on the track, she look- 
ed to him ',' like some one walking in her sleep." An hour or two 
later, in a dell, amongst the furze-bushes, I chanced on a knot of 
ribbon. 1 recognized the color Lilian habitually wore; I felt cer- 
tain that the ribbon was hers. Calculating the utmost speed 1 
could ascribe to her, she could not be far off, yet still I faded to 
discover. The scene now was as solitary as a desert ; 1 met no 
one on my way. At length, a little after sunset, I found myself in 
view of the sea. A small town nestled below the cliffs, on which 
1 was guiding my weary horse. 1 entered the town and while my 
horse was baiting went in search of the resident policeman. The 
information I had directed to be sent round the country had reach- 
ed him ; he bad acted on it, but without resul'. I was surprised 
to hear him address me by name, and on looking at him more nar- 
rowly 1 recognized him for the policeman Waby. This yqung 
man had always expressed so grateful a sense of my attendance ou 
I is sister, and had, indeed, so notably evinced his gratitude in 
prosecuting with Margrave the inquiries which terminated in the 
discovery <>t' Sir Philip Derval's murderer, that. I confided to him 
ii;o name of the wanderer of which he had not been previously in- 
formed ; but which it would be, indeed, impossible to conceal from 
him should the search in which his aid was asked prove success- 
ful, — as he knew Miss Ashleigli by sight. His face immediately 
became thoughtful lie paused a minute or two, and then said : 

" I think 1 have it, but 1 do not like to say ; I may pain you, 
sir." 

"Nol by confidence; you pain me by concealment." 
The man hesitated still ; 1 encouraged him, and then he R] oka 
out frankly. 



232 A STRANGE STORY. * 

" Sir, did you never think it strange tbat Mr. Margrave should 
move from his handsome rooms in the hotel to a somewhat uncom- 
fnrlable lodging, from the window of which he could look down on 
Mrs. Ashleigh's garden ? I have seen him at night in the balcony 
of that window, and when I noticed him going so frequently into 
Mrs. Ashleigh's house during your unjust detention, I own, sir, I 
felt for you- — " 

" Nonsense: Mr. Margrave went to Mrs. Ashleigh's house as my 

friend. He has left L weeks ago. What has all this to do 

with " 

"Patience, sir; hear me out. I was sent from L to this 

station (on promotion, sir,), a fortnight since, last Friday — for there 
has been a good deal of crime hereabouts, it is a bad neighborhood, 
and full of smugglers ; — some days ago, in watching quietly near 
a lonely house, of which the owner is a suspicious character, down 
in my books, I saw! to my amazement, Mr. Margrave come out of 
that house — come out of a private door in it, which belongs to a 
part of the building not inhabited by the owner, but which used 
formerly, when the house was a sort of inn, to be let to night 
lodgers of the humblest description. I followed him ; he went 
down to the sea-shore, walked about, singing to himself, then re- 
turned to the house, and reentered by the same door. I soon 
learned that he lodged in the house, had lodged there for several 
days. The next morning a fine yacht arrived at a tolerably con- 
venient creek about a mile from the house, and there anchored. 
Sailors came ashore, rambling down to this town. The yacht be- 
longed to Mr. Margrave, he had purchased it by commission in 
London. It is stored for a long voyage. He had directed it to 
Xiome to him in this out-of-the-way place, where no gentleman's 
yacht ever put in before, though the creek, or bay, is handy enough 
for such craft. Well, sir, is it not strange that a rich young gen- 
tleman should come to this unfrequented sea-shore, put up with 
accommodation that must be of the rudest kind in the house of a 
man known as a desperate smuggler, suspected to be worse 1 — 
Order a yacht to meet him here; is not all this, strange? But 
would it be strange if he were waiting for a young lady ? And if 
a young lady has fled at night from her home, and has come secret- 
ly along by-paths, which must have been very fully explained to 
her beforehand, and is now near that young gentleman's lodging, if 
not actually in it, if this be so, why, the affair is not so very strange 
after all. And now do you forgive me, sir V 

" Where is this house ? Lead me, to it." 

" You can hardly get to it except on foot ; rough walking, sir, 
and about seven miles off by the shortest cut." 

" Come, at once ; come quickly. We must be there before-r-be- 
fore " 

"Before the young lady can get to the place. Well, from what 
you say of the spot in which she was last seen, I think, on reflec- 



A STRANGE STORY. 233 

linn, we may easily do that. I am at your service, sir. But 1 
should warn you that tiie owners of the house, man and wilt', are 
beth of villainous character — would do anything for money. Mr, 
Margrave, no doubt, lias money enough, and if the young lady 
chooses io go away with Mr. Margrave, you know, I have no power 
to help it." 

"Leave all that to me : all I ask of you is to show me the 
lion; 

We were soon out of the town ; the night had closed in ; it was 
very dark in spite of a few stars*; the path was rugged and pre- 
cipitous, sometimes skirting the very brink of perilous cliffs ; some- 
lames delving down to Hie sea-shore — there stopped hy rock or 
wave — and painfully rewinding up the ascent. 

" It is an ugly path, sir, but it saves four miles: and anyhow 
the road is a, had one." 

We came, at lasi, to a few wretched fishermen's huts. The 

moon bud now risen, and revealed the squalor of poverty-stricken 

ruinous hovels ; a couple of boats moored to the shore ; a moaning* 

! sea : and at a disiance, a vessel, with lights on hoard, lying 

■ily siill at anchor in a sheltered curve of the bold rude shore. 

The policeman pointed to the vessel : 

"The yacht, sir; the wind will be in her faver if she sails to- 
night." 

We quickened our pace as well as the nature of the path would 
permit, left the huts behind us, and, about a mile further on, came 
to a solitary house, larger than from the policeman's description of 
Margrave's lodgment, 1 should have presupposed : a house that in 
the wilder parts of (Scotland might be almost a laird's ; but even 
in the moonlight it looked very dilapidated and desolate. Most id' 
tiie windows were (dosed, some with panes broken, stuffed with 
wisps of straw ; there were (he remains of a wall round the house : 
it was broken in some "parts (only iis foundation left). On ap- 
proaching the house, ' observed two doors, one on the side front- 
in the sea, one on the other side facing a patch of broken ground 
thai might once have been a garden, and lay waste within the en- 
closure of the ruined wall, encumbered with various litter — heaps 
of rubbish, 8 ruined shed, the carcase of a worn-out boat. This 
latter door stood wide open — the other was closed. The horn- 
still and dark, as if either deserted or all within it retired to rest. 

"I think that open door leads at once totbe rooms Mr. Marg 
hires; he can go in and out wiihout disturbing the other inmates. 
They used to keep, on the side which they inhabit, a beer-house, 
but the magistrate 8hu1 it up; still h is a resort for bad charac- 
ters. Now, sir, what shall we do :'*' 

" Watch separately. Von wait, within the enclosure of tiie wall, 
hid hy those heaps of rubbish near the door; none can enter hut 
what you will observe them. If you see Jkt, y«m will acOOSt and 
slop her. and eall aloud for me ; 1 shall be in hearing. I will go 



234 A STRANGE STORY. 

back to the high part of the ground yonder, it seems to me that 
she must pass that way ; and I would desire, if possible, to save 
her from the humiliation, the — the shame of coming within the 
precincts of that man's abode. I feel I may trust you now and 
hereafter. It is a great thing for the happiness and honor of this 
poor young lady and her mother, that I may be able to declare that 
I did not take her from that man, from any man — from that house, 
from any house. You comprehend me, and will obey ? I speak to 
you as a confidant — a friend." 

14 1 thank you with my whole heart, sir, for so doing. You 
saved my sister's life, and the least I can do is to keep secret all 
that would pain your life if blabbed abroad. I know what mis- 
chief folks' tongues can make. I will wait by the door, neverfear, 
and will rather lose my place than not strain all the legal power I 
possess to keep the young lady back from sorrow." 

This dialogue was interchanged in close hurried whisper behind 
the broken wall, and out of all hearing. Waby now crept through 
a wide gap into the enclosure, and nestled himself silently amidst 
the wrecks of. the broken boat, not six feet from the open door, and 
close to the wall of -the house itself. I went back some thirty 
yards up the road, to the rising ground which I had pointed out to 
him. According to the best calculation I could make — considering 
the pace at which I had cleared the precipitous pathway, and 
reckoning from the place and time at which Lilian had been last 
s. j en, she could not possibly have yet entered that house — I might 
presume it would be more than half an hour before she could ar- 
rive ; I was in hopes that, during the interval, Margrave might 
show bimself, perhaps at the door, or from the windows, or I might 
even by some light from the -latter be guided to the room in which 
to find him. If, after wailing' a reasonable time, Lilian should fail 
to appear, I had formed my own plan of action ; but it was impor- 
tant for the success of that plan that I should not lose myself in 
the strange house, nor bring its owners to Margrave's aid — that I 
should surprise him alone and unawares. Half an hour, three- 
quarters, a whole hour thus passed — no signs of my poor wanderer ; 
but signs there were of the enemy, from whom I resolved, at what- 
ever risk, to free and to save her. A window on the ground floor 
to the left of the door, which had long fixed my attention because 
I had seen light through the chinks of the shutters, slowly unclos- 
ed, the shutters fell back, the casement opened, aud I beheld Mar- 
grave distinctly ; he held something in his hand that gleamed, in 
the moonlight, directed not^ toward the mound on which I stood, 
nor towards the path 1 had taken, but toward an open space be- 
yond the ruined wall, to the right. Hid by a cluster of stunted 
shrubs, I watched him with a heart that beat with rage, not witli 
terror. He seemed so intent in his own gaze, as to be inattentive. 
or unconscious of all else. I stole round from my post, and still 
under cover, sometimes of the broken wait, sometimes of the 



A STRANGE STORY. 235 

shaggy ridges that skirted the path, crept mi, on till I reached the 
side of the house itself; then, there secure from his eye s, should he 
turn them, 1 stepped over the ruined wall, scarcely two feet high 
in that place, on — on towards the door. I passed the spot on 
which the policeman had shrouded himself; he was scaled, his 
hack against the ribs of the broken boat. I put my hand to his 
mouth that he might not cry out in surprise, and whispered in his 
ear ; he stirred not. A ray of the moon fell on his face. L saw 
that he was in a profound slumber. Persuaded that it was no 
natural sleep, and thai lie had become useless to me, 1 passed him 
by. I was at the threshold of the open door ; the light from the 
window clt>se by falling en the ground ; 1 was in the passage ; a. 
glimmer came through the chinks of a door to the left; I turned 
the handle noiselessly, and the next moment, Margrave was locked 
in my grasp. 

•• CaJ out," 1 hissed in his car. "and I strangle you before any 
one can come to your help !" 

He did imt call out ; his eye, fixed on mine as he writhed round, 
saw. perhaps, his peril if he did. His countenance betrayed tear. 
but as I tightened my grasp ;hat expression gave way to one of 
wrath and fierceness ; and as. in turn. 1 felt the gripe of his hand, 
I knew that the struggle between us would be thai, of two strong 
men, i ally benl on the mastery off-he other. 

1 was, as 1 have said before, endowed with an unusual degree of 
physical power, disciplined, in early youth, by athletic exercise 
and contest. I height and in muscle I had greatly the advau 
over my antagonist, hut such was the nervous vigor, the elastic 
energy of his incomparable frame, in which sinews seemed spr 
of steel, that had our encounter been one in which my strength was 
less heightened by rage, I believe that 1 could no more have coped 
with him than the bison can cope with the boa ; but I was anima- 
ted by thai passion which trebles for a time all our forces — which, 
makes even the weak man a match for the strong. 1 felt that if I 
were worsted, disabled, stricken down, Lilian might be lost in los- 
ing her sole protector; and, on the oilier hand, Margrave had been 
taken at the disadvantage of that surprise which wi;l half unnerve 
the fiercest of the wild beasts : whi e as we grappled, reeling and 
rocked to and fro in our struggle, I soon observed that his atten- 
tion was distracted — that his eye was turned towards an object 
which lie had dropped involuntarily when I first seized him. He 
soughl to drag me towards that object, and when Dear it, stooped to 
a blight, slender, short wand of steel. 1 remem- 
bered when and where 1 had seen it, whether in mywaking sfaie, 
or in vision, and his hand stole down to take it from the floor 1 set l 

e wand my strong torn. 1 cannot tell by what rapid process 
ofthoughl and association 1 came "lief that the possession 

of a liti.e piece of' blunted steel won d decide in favor 

of the possessor, but the struggle now was opnceiitred in the at- 



236 'a strange story. 

tainment of that seemingly idle weapon. I was becoming breath- 
less and exhausted, win e Margrave seemed every moment to gather 
up new force, when, collecting all my strength for one final effort, 
I lifted him suddenly high in the air, and hurled him to the furthest 
end of the cramped arena to which our contest was confined. He 
fell, and with a force by which most men would have been stunned: 
but he recovered himself with a quick rebound, and, as he stood 
facing me, there was something grand as well as terrible in his 
aspect. His eyes literally flamed, as those of a tiger ; his rich 
hair, flung back from his knitted forehead, seemed to erect it- 
self as an angry mane ; his lips, slightly parted, showed the 
glitter of his set teeth ; his whole frame seemed larger in the 
tension of the muscles, and as gradually relaxing his first defy- 
ing and haughty attitude, he crouched as the panther crouches 
for its deadly spring, 1 felt as if it were a wild beast whose 
rush was coming upon me — wild beast, but still Man, the king 
of the animals, fashioned forth from no mixture of humbler 
races by the slow revolutions of time, but his royalty stamped 
on his form when the earth became fit for his coming* 

At that moment I snatched up the wand, directed it towards 
him, and, advancing with a fearless stride, cried, 

" Down to my feet, miserable sorcerer!" 

To my own amaze the effect was instantaneous. My terrible 
antagonist dropped to the floor as a dog drops at the word of his 
master. The muscles of his frowning countenance relaxed, the 
glare of his wrathful eyes grew dull and rayless ; his limbs lay 
prostrate and unerved, his head resting against the wall, his arm 
limp and drooping by his side. I approached him slowly and 
cautiously ; he seemed cast into a profound slumber. 

" You are at my mercy now !" 

He moved his head as in sign of deprecating submission. • 

" You hear and understand me ? Speak !" 

His lips faintly muttered " Yes." 

" I command you to answer truly the questions I shall address 
to you." 

" I must while ye; sensible of the power that has passed to your 
hand." 

" Is it by some occult magnetic property in this wand that you 
have exercised so demoniac an influence over a creature so pure 
as Lilian Ashleigh 1" 

" By that wand and by other arts which you could not com- 
prehend." 

" And for what infamous object 1 — her seduction, her dishonor?" 



* " And yet, even if we entirely omit the consideration of the soul, that im- 
material and immortal principle which is for a time united to his body, and 
view him only in his merely animal character, man is still the most excellent 
of animals."— Dr. Kidd on the Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical 
Condition of Man (Sect. iii. page 18). 



A STRANGE STORY. 237 

" No ! I sought in her the aid of* a gift which would cease, did 
she cease to be pure. At first I but cast my influence upon her 
that through her I might influence yourself. I needed your help 
to discover a secret. Circumstances steeled your mind against 
1 could no longer hope that you would voluntarily lend your- 
self to my will. Meanwhile, I had found in her the light of a 
loftier knowledge than that of your science; through that knowl- 
edge, duly heeded and cultivated, I hoped to divine what 1 oannol 
of myself discover. Therefore 1 deepened oxer her mind the spells 
I command — therefore 1 have drawn her hither as the loadstone 
draws the steel; and therefore I would have borne her wilh me to 
the shores to which T was about this night to sail. I had cast the 
inmates df the house, and all around it. into slumber, in order that 
none might witness her departure; had I not done so, I should 
have summon: ,1 others to my aid. in spite of your threat." 

" And would Lilian Ashleigh have passively accompanied you, 
to her own irretrievable disgrace ?" 

" She could not have helped it ; she would have been unconscious 
of her acts; she was, and is, in a trance; nor, had she gone with 
me, would she have waked from that state while" she lived j that 
Would not have been long." 

'"Wretch! and for what objeel of unhallowed curiosity do you 
exert an influence which withers away the life of its victim ?" ' 

"Not curiosity, but (he instinct of self-preservation. I count on 
no life beyond the grave. 1 would defy the grave, and live on." 

'• And was it to learn, through some ghastly agencies, the secret 
of renewing existence that you lured me by the shadow of yOU* 
own image on the night when we met lasl ?" 

The voice of Margrave here became very faint as he answered 
me, and his countenance began to exhibit the signs of an exhaustion 
almost mortal. 

"Me quick," he murmured, "or I die. The fluid which ema- 
nates from licit wand in the hand of one who envenoms the fluid 
will; his own 'hatred and rage will prove fatal to my life. Lower 
the wand from my forehead; low — low: — lower still !" 

" What was the nature of that rite in which you constrained me 
to share I" 

" 1 cannot say. You are killing me. Enough that you were 
saved from a great danger by the apparition of the protecting 
image vouchsafed to your eye, otherwise you would — you would 

Ob. release me ! Away ! away !" 

foam gathered to his lips ; his limbs became fearfully con- 
vulsed. 

" One question more : Where is Lilian at this moment ( An- 
swer that question, and I depi 

lie raised bis bead, made a visible effort to rally his strength, 
and gasped out, , * 

" Yonder. Lass through the open space, up the cliff, beside a 



238 A STRANGE STORY. 

thorn-tree — you will find her there where she halted when the 
wand dropped from my hand. But — but — beware ! Ha ! you 
will serve me yet, and through her ! They said so that, night, 
though you heard them not. They said it!" Here his face be- 
came death-like ; he pressed his hand on his heart and shrieked 
out, " Away — away ! or you are my murderer !" 

I retreated to the other end of the tfoom, turning the wand from 
him, and when I gained the door, looked back; his convulsions 
had ceased, but he seemed locked in a profound swoon. I left the 
ruom — the house — paused by Waby ; he was still sleeping. — 
" Awake !" 1 said, and touched him with the wand. He started 
up at uiice, rubbed his eyes, began stammering out excuses. I 
cheeked them, and bade him follow me. I took the way up the 
open ground toward which Margrave had pointed the wand, and 
there, motionless, beside a gnarled fantastic thorn-tree, stood 
Lilian. Her arms were folded across her breast ; her face, seen 
by the moonlight, looked so innocent and so infantile, that I 
d no other evidence to tell me how unconscious she was of 
the peril to whieh her steps had been drawn. I took her gently 
by the hand, "t/ome with me," I said, in a whisper; and she 
obeyed me silently and with a placid smile. 

High though the way, she seemed unconscious of fatigue. 1 
placed her arm in mine, but she did not, lean on it. We got back 
to the town. I obtained there an old chaise and a pair of horses. 
At morning Lilian was under her mother's roof. About the noon 
of that day fever seized her, she became rapidly worse, and, to all 
appearance, in imminent danger. Delirium set in ; I watched be- 
side her night and day, supported by an inward conviction of her 
recovery, but tortured by tiie sight of her sufferings. On the third 
a change for the better became visible, her sleep was calm, 
her breathing regular. 

Shortly afterwards she woke, out of danger. Her eyes fell at 
once on me, with all their old ineffable tender sweetness. 

" Oh. Allen, beloved, have I not been very ill 1 But I am al- 
most well now. Ho not weep ; I shall live for you — for your 
sake." And she bent forward, drawing my hand from my stream- 
ing eyes, and kissing me with a child's guileless kiss on my burn- 
ing forehead. 



A STRANGE STORY. 239 



CHAPTER LYI. 

Lilian recovered, bul the strange thing was this : all memory 
of the weeks that had elapsed aince her return from visiting her 
•aunt was completely obliterated ; she seemed in profound igno- 
rance of the charge on which I had been confined : perfectly ig- 
norant even of the existence of Margrave ; she had. indeed, a very 
vague reminiscence of her conversation with me in the garden — 
the, first conversation which had ever been embittered by a disa- 
greement — hut that disagreement itself she did not recollect. Her 
belief was that she had been ill and light-headed since that eve- 
ning. From that evening, to the hour of her waking, conscious 
and revived, all was a blank*. Her love for me was restored, as 
if its threads had never been' broken. Some such instances of ob- 
livion after bodily illness or mental shock' are familiar enough to 
the practice of all medical men;* and I was therefore enabled to 
appease the anxiety and wonder of Mrs. Asiiieigh by quoting va- 
rious examples of loss, or suspension, of memory. We agreed 
that it would be necessary to break to Lilian, though very cau- 
tiously, the story of Sir Philip Uerval's murder, and tlie charge to 
which I had been subjected. She could not fail to hear of those 
events from others. How shall 1 express her womanly terror, her 
loving sympathizing pity, on hearing the tale, which 1 soften* 
well us L could I 

" And to think that 1 knew nothing of this ! " she cried, clasp- 
ing my hand ; " to think that you were in peril, and that I Was 
by your side !" 

Her mother spoke of Margrave as a visitor — an agreeable, lively 
stranger; Lilian could not even recollect iiis name, but she seemed 

* Such instances of suspense of memory are recorded in must physioli -i- 
nd in Borne metaphysical, works. Dr. Abercrombie notices some, 
or less similar to thai related in the text: "A young lady who was present 

atastrophe in Scotland, in which many people lost their lives by ;: 
of the gallery of a church, escaped without any injury, hut with the complete 
f the recollection of any of the circumstances; and this extended not 
fonly to the accident, bul to everything thai had occurred to her tor a certain 
time before going to church. A holy whom I attended some years ago in a 
protracted illness, in which her memory became much impaired, lost the re- 
collection of a period of about ten or twelve years, bul spoke with perfect 
consistency ol things as they stood before that time." Dr. Abercrombie 
"As far as 1 have l.cen able to trace it. the principle in Buch 
io he. that when the memory is impaired to a certain degree, ti,. 
of it extends backward to some event or some period by which a particularly 
deep impression had been made upon the mind." — Abercrombie ou the Intel- 
lectual Fowerfc, pugos 116, Hi) (15th edition). » 



240 A STRANGE STORY. 

shocked to think that any visitor had been admitted while I was 
in circumstances so awful ! Need I say that our engagement was 
renewed? Renewed! To' her knowledge and to her heart it- 
had never been interrupted for a moment. But oh, the malignity 
of the wrong world ! Oh, that strange lust of mangling reputa- 
tions, which seizes on hearts the least wantonly cruel ! Let two 
idle tongues utter a tale against some third person, who never of- 
fended the Babblers, and how the tale spreads, like fire, lighted 
none know how, in the herbage of an American prairie ! Who 
shall put it out 1 ? , 

What right have we to pry into the secrets of other men's 
hearths ? True or false, the tale that is gabbled to us, what con- 
cern of ours can it be 1 I speak not of cases to which the law 
has been summoned, which law has sifted, on which law has pro- 
nounced: But how, when the law is silent, can we assume its ver- 
dicts ? How be all judges, where there has been no witness-box, 
no cross-examination, no jury 1 Yet, every day we put on our 
ermine, and make ourselves judges — judges sure to condemn, and 
on what evidence ? That which no court of law will receive. — 
Somebody has said something to somebody, which somebody re- 
to everybody ! 

The gossip of L had set in full current against Lilian's fair 

name. No ladies had called or sent to congratulate Mrs. Ash- 
on her return, or to inquire after Lilian herself during her 
struggle between life and death. 

How I missed the Queen of the Hill at this critical moment! 
I longed for aid to crush the slander, with which I knew not 
how to grapple — aid, in her knowledge of the world, and her as- ' 
cen.leiicy over its judgments. I had heard from her once since 
her absence, briefly but kindly expressing her amazement at the 
ineffable stupidity which could for a moment have subjected me to 
a suspicioM of Sir Philip Derval's strange murder, and congratu- 
lating me heartily on my complete vindication from so monstrous 
irge; To this letter no address was given. I supposed the 
omission to be accidental, but on calling at her house to inquire 
her direction, I found that her servants did not know it. 

What, then, was my joy when, just at this juncture, I received 
a note from Mrs. Poyntz, stating that she had returned the night 
before, and would be glad to see me. 

I hastened to her house. " Ah," thought I, as I sprang lightly 
up the ascent to the Hill, " how the tattlers will be silenced by a* 
word from her imperial lips!" And only just as I approached 
her door did it strike me how difficult — nay, how impossible, to 
explain to her — the hard positive woman, her who had, less osten- 
sibly; but more ruthlessly than myself, destroyed Dr. Lloyd for 
his belief in the comparatively rational pretensions of clairvoy- 
ance — all the mystical excftses for Lilian's flight from her home ? 
How speak to her — or, indeed, to any one — about an occult fascin- 



A STRANGE STORY. 241 

ation and a magic wand ? No matter : surely ft would be enough 
to say that, at the time, Lilian had been light-headed, under the 
influence of the fever which had afterwards nearly proved fatal. 
The early friend of Arine Ashleigh would no), he a seven' critic 
on any tale that might right lite good name of Anne Afihleigh's 
daughter. So assured, with light heart and cheerful face, I fol- 
lowed the servant into the great lady's pleasant hut. decorous pres- 
ence-chamber. 



CHAPTER LVII. 



fifes. PoYNTZ was on her favorite seat by the window, and, for 
a wonder, not knitting — t liat classic task seemed done; but she 
was smoothing and folding the completed work with her white 
comely hand, and smiling over it, as, if in complacent approval, 
when I entered the room. At the fireside sat the he-colonel, in- 
specting a newly invented barometer; at another window, in the 
furthest recess of the room, stood Miss Jane Poyntz, with a young 
gentleman whom I had never before seen, but who turned his eyes 
full upon me with a haughty look as the servant announced my 
name, lie was tall, well-proportioned, decidedly handsome, but 
with that expression of cold and concentred self-esteem in his 
Very attitude, as well as his countenance, which makes a man of 
merit unpopular, a man without merit ridiculous. 

The he-colonel, always punctiliously civil, rose from his seat, 
shook hands with me cordially, and said, " Coldish weather to-day ; 
but we shall have rain to-morrow, Rainy seasons come in cycles. 
We are about to commence a cycle of them with heavy showers." 
lie sighed, and returned to his barometer. 

Miss .Jane bowed to me graciously enough, but, was evidently a 
little confused, a circumstance which might well attract my no- 
tice, for 1 had never before seen that high-bred young lady deviate 
a hair's breadth from the even tenor of a manner admirable for a 
cheerful and courteous ease, which one felt convinced would be 
Unaltered to those around her if an earthquake swallowed one up 

an inch before lief feel. 

The young gentleman continued to eye me loftily, as the heir- 
apparenl to some celestial planet might eye an inferior creature 
from a half-fbrmed nebula suddenly dropped upon his sublime aud 
perfected star. 

Mrs. Poyntz extended to me two finders, and said, frigidly, "De- 
Mi 



242 A STRANGE STORY. 

lighted to see you again ! How kind to attend so soon to my 
note ! " Motioning me to a seat beside her, she here turned to her 
husband, and said, "Poyntz, since a cycle of rain begins to-mor- 
row, better secure your ride to-day. Take these young people 
with you. I want to talk with Dr. Fenwick." 

The colonel carefully put away his barometer, and saying to his 
daughter, " Come ! " went forth. Jane followed her father ; the 
young gentleman followed Jane. 

The reception I had met chilled and disappointed me. I felt 
that Mrs. Poyntz was changed, and in her change the whole 
house seemed changed. The very chairs looked civilly unfriend- 
ly, as if preparing to turn their backs on me. However, I was 
not in the false position of an intruder ; I had been summoned ; 
it was for Mrs. Poyntz to speak first, and I waited quietly for her 
to do so. 

She finished the careful folding of her work, and then laid it at 
rest in the drawer of the table at which she sat. Having so done, 
she turned to me, and said, 

" By the way, I ought to have introduced to you my young 
guest, Mr. Ashleigh Sumner. You would like him. He has ta- 
lents — not showy, but solid. He will succeed in public life." 

" So that young man is Mr. Ashleigh Sumner 1 I do not won- 
der that Miss Ashleigh rejected him." 

I said this, for I was nettled, as well as surprised, at the cool- 
ness with which . a lady who had professed a friendship for me 
mentioned that fortunate young gentleman, with so complete an 
oblivion of all the antecedents that had once made his name pain- 
ful to my ear. 

In turn, my answer seemed to nettle Mrs. Poyntz. 

" I am not so sure that she did reject ; perhaps she rather 
misunderstood him ; gallant compliments are not always propo- 
sals of marriage. However that be, his spirits were n.ot much 
damped by Miss Ashleigh's disdain, nor his heart deeply smitten 
by her charms, for he is now very happy, very much attached to 
another young lady, to whom he proposed, three days ago, at Lady 
Delafield's, and not to make a mystery of what all our little world 
will know before to-morrow, that young lady is my daughter 
Jane." 

" Were I acquainted with Mr. Sumner, I should offer to him my 
sincere congratulation." 

Mrs. Poyntz resumed, without heeding a reply more complimen- 
tary to Miss Jane than to the object of her choice : 

" I told you that I meant Jane to marry a rich country gentle- 
man, and Ashleigh Sumner is the very country gentleman I had 
then in my thoughts. He is cleverer and more ambitious than I 
could have hoped : he will be a minister some day, in right of his 
talents, and a peer if he wishes it, in right of his lands. So that 
matter is settled." 



A.STRANOB STORY. 243 

There was a pause, during which my mind passed rapidly through 
links of reminiscence and reasoning, which led me to a mingled 
sentiment of admiration for Mrs". Poyntz as a diplomatist and of 

distrust for Mrs. Poyntz as a friend. It was now clear why Mrs. 
Poyntz, before so little disposed to approve my love, had urged me 
at once to offer my hand to Lilian, in order that she might depart 
affianced and engaged to the house in which she would meet Mr. 
Ashleigh Sumner. Hence. Mrs. Loyntz's anxiety lo obtain all the 
information 1 could afford her of the savings and doings at Lady 
Ilauii'hlon's ; hence, the publicity she had so suddenly given to my 
engagement; hence, when Mr. Sumner had gone away, a rejected 

suitor, her own departure from L ; she had seized the very 

moment when a vain and proud man, piqued by the mortification 
received from one lady, falls the easier prey to the arts which allure 
his suit to another. All was so far clear to me. And I — was my 
self-oonceil less egregious and less readily duped than th.it of yon 
gilded popinjay's! Eow skilfully this woman had knitted me into 
her work with the noiseless turn of her white hands ! arid yet, for- 
sooth, I must vaunt the superior scope of my intellect, aid plumb 
all the fountains of Nature — I, who could not fathom the little pool 
of this female schemer's mind ! 

But that was no time for resentment to her or rebuke for myself. 
She was now the woman who could best protect and save from 
slander my innocent, beloved Lilian. But how approach that per- 
plexing subject. 

Mrs. Poyntz approached it, and with her usual decision of pur- 
pose which bore so deceitful a likeness to candor of mind. 

" But it was not to tall; of my affairs that, I asked you to call, 
Allen Fenwick." As she uttered my name, her voire softened, 
and her manner took that maternal, caressing tenderness which 
had sometimes amused and sometimes misled me. "No, 1 do not 
forget tli.it you asked me to be your friend, and I take, without 
pie, the license of friendship. What are these stories that 1 
have heard already about Lilian Ashleigh to whom you were once 
engaged V 

■• ! ■-> whom 1 am still engaged." 

" Is it possible .' Oh, then, of course the stories I have heard 
are all false. Very likely ; no fiction in scandal ever surprises me. 
Poor dear Lilian, then, never ran away from her mother's hou 

I smothered the angry pain which tins mode of questioning 
ed me; 1 knew how important it was to Lilian to seen 
her the countenance and support of this absolute autocrat ; i spoke 
of Lilian's long previous distemper of mind ; I accounted for it as 
an> intelligent physician, unacquainted with all that I could not 
al, would account. Heaven forgive me fur the venial 
I, but 1 spoke of the terrible charge against myself . 
to unhinge, for a time, the intellect of a girl so acutely sensitivi 
Lilian ; 1 Bought to create that impression as to tb« origin of all 



244 A STRANGE STORY. 

that might otherwise seem strange ; and in this state of cerebral 
excitement she had wandered from home — but alone. I had tracked 
every step of her way ; I had found and restored her to her home. 
A critical delirium had followed, from which she now rose, cured 
in health, unsuspicious that there could be a whisper against her 
name. And then, with all the eloquence I could command, and in 
words as adapted as I could frame them to soften the heart of a 
woman, herself a mother, I implored Mrs. Poyntz's aid to silence 
all the cruelties of calumny, and extend her shield over the child 
of her own early friend. 

When I came to an end, I had taken, with caressing force, Mrs. 
Poyntz's reluctant hands in mine. There were tears in my voice, 
tears in my eyes. And the first sound of her voice in reply, gave 
me hope, for it was unusually gentle. She was evidently moved. 
The hope was soon quelled. 

"Allen Fenwick," she said, "you have a noble heart, I grieve 
to see how it abuses your reason. I cannot aid Lilian Ashleigh in 
the way you ask. Do not start back so indignantly. Listen to me 
as patiently as I have listened to you. That when you brought 
back the unfortunate young woman to her poor mother, her mind 
was disordered, and became yet more dangerously so, I can well 
believe ; that she is now recovered, and thinks with shame, or re- 
fuses to think at all, of her imprudent flight, I can believe also ; 
but I do not believe, the World cannot believe that she did not, 
knowingly and purposely, quit her mother's roof, and in quest of 
that young stranger so incautiously, so unfeelingly admitted to her 
mother's house during the very time you were detained on the most 
awful of human accusations. Every one in the town knows that 
Mr. Margrave visited daily at Mrs. Ashleigh's during that painful 
period; every one in the town knows in what strange, out-of-the- 
way place this young man had niched himself; and that a yacht 
was bought, and lying in wait there. What for 1 It is said 
that the chaise in which you brought Miss Ashleigh back to her 
home was hired at a village within an easy reach of Mr. Margrave's 
lodging — of Mr. Margrave's yacht. I rejoice that you saved the 
poor girl from ruin : but her good name is tarnished, and if Anne 
Ashleigh, whom I sincerely pity, .asks me my advice, I can but 

give her this : " Leave L , take your daughter abroad, and if 

she is not to marry Mr. Margrave, marry her as quietly and as 
quickly as possible to some foreigner.' " 

"Madam ! madam ! this, then, is your friendship to her — to me ! 
Oh, shame on you to insult thus an affianced husband ! Shame on 
me ever to have thought you had a heart !" 

"A heart, man !" she exclaimed, almost fiercely, springing up 
and startling me with the change in her countenance and voice. 
" And little you would have valued, and pitilessly have crushed 
this heart, if I had suffered myself to show it to you ! What right 
have you to reproach me ? I felt a warm interest in your career, 



A STRANGE STORY. 245 

an unusual attraction in your conversation and society. Do you 
blame me for that, or should I blame myself? Condemned to live 
among brainless! puppets, my dull occupation to pull the strings 
that moved them, it was a new charm fo my life to establish friend- 
ship and intercourse with intellect, and spirit, and courage. Ah, I 
understand that look, half incredulous, half inquisitive." 

"Inquisitive, no ! incredulous, yes ! Von desired my friendship, 
and how does your harsh judgment of my betrothed wife prove 
either to me or to her mother, whom you have known from your 
girlhood, the first duty of a friend, which is surely not that of 
leaving a friend's side the moment that he needs countenance in 
calumny, succor in trouble." 

"It is a better duty to prevent the calumny and avert the trouble. 
Leave aside Anne Ashleigh, a cipher that I can add or subtract, 
from my sum of life as I please. What is my duty to yourself? 
II is plain. It is to tell you that your honor commands you to 
abandon all thoughts Of Lilian Ashleigh as your wife. Ungrateful 
that you are ! Do you suppose it was no mortification to my pride 
of woman and friend, that you never approached me in confidence 
except io ask my good offices in promoting your courtship to 
another? No shocks to the quiet plans I had formed as to our 
familiar though harmless intimacy, to hear that you were bent on a 
marriage in which my friend would be lost to me?" 

" Not lost ! — not lost ! ( )ii the contrary, the regard I must sup- 
pose you had for Lilian would have been a new link between our 
homes." 

"Pooh! Between me and that dreamy girl there could have 
been no sympathy, there could have grown up no regard. You 
would have been chained to your fireside, and — and — but no mat- 
ter. I stifled my disappointment as soon as I felt it — stifled it, as 
all my life I have stifled that which either destiny or duty — duty 
to myself as to others — forbids me to indulge. Ah, do not fancy 
me one of the weak criminals who can suffer a worthy liking to 
grow into a debasing love. I was not in love with you, Allen 
Fonwick." 

" Do you think I was ever so presumptuous a coxcomb as to 
fancy it?" 

" No," said she more softly ; " I was not so false to my house- 
hold ties and to my own nature. But there are some friendships 
which are as jealous as love. I could have cheerfully aided you in 
any choice which my sense could have approved for you as wise ; 
1 should have been pleased to have found in such a wife my most 
intimate companion. But that silly child! — absurd! Neverthe- 
less, the freshness and enthusiasm of your love touched me ; you 
asked my aid. and 1 gave it — perhaps 1 did believe that when you 
saw more of Lilian Ashleigh you would be cured of a fancy con- 
ceived by the eye — I should have known better what dupes the 
wisest men can be 1> the witcheries of a fair face and eighteen ! 



246 A STRANGE STORY. 

\ 

When I found your illusion obstinate, I wrenched myself away 
from a vain regret, turned to my own schemes and my own ambi- 
tion, and smiled bitterly to think that in pressing you to propose so 
hastily to Lilian, I made your blind 'passion an agent in my own 
plans. Enough of this. I speak thus openly and boldly to you 
now because now I have not a sentiment that can interfere with 
the dispassionate soundness of my counsels. I repeat, you cannot 
now marry Lilian Ashleigh ; I cannot take my daughter to visit 
her; 1 cannot destroy the social laws that I myself have set in my 
petty kingdom." 

" Be it as you will. I have pleaded for her while she is still 
Lilian Ashleigh. I plead for no one to whom I have once given 
my name. Before the woman whom I have taken from the altar I 
can plac( . as a shield sufficient, my strong breast of man. Who 
has so deep an interest in Lilian's purity as I have? Who is so 
fitted to know the exact truth of every whisper against her 1 -Yet 
when 1, whom you admit to have some reputation for shrewd in- 
telligence — I, who tracked her away — I, who restored her to her 
home — when i, Allen Fenwick, am so assured of her inviolable 
innocence, in thought as in deed, that I trust my honor to her keep- 
ing — surely, surely, I confute the scandal which you yourself do 
not believe, though you refuse to reject and annul it." 

" Do not deceive yourself, Allen Fenwick," said she, still stand- 
ing beside me, her countenance now hard and stern. " Look, 
where I stand, I am The World! The World, not as satirists 
depreciate or as optimists extol its immutable properties, its all- 
pervasive authority. I am the World! And my voice is the 
World's voice when it thus warns you. Should you make this 
marriage, your dignity of character and position would he gone! — 
if you look only to lucre and professional success, poosibly they 
may not ultimately Buffer. You have skill which men need ; their 
need may >\\\\ draw patients to your door and pour guineas into 
your purse. But you have the pride as well as the birth of a gen- 
tleman, and the wounds to that pride would be hourly chafed and 
never healed. Your strong breast of man has no shelter to the 
frail name of woman. The World, in its health, will look down on 
your wife, though its sick may look up to you. This is not all. 
The World, in its gentlest mood of indulgence, will say, compassion- 
ately, 'Boor man! how weak, and how deceived. What an un- 
fortunate marriage! ' But the World is not often indulgent, it 
looks most to the motives most seen on the surface. And the 
World will more frequently say, ' No, much too clever a man to be 
duped. Miss Ashleigh had money. A good match to the man 
who liked gold better than honor.' " 

I sprang to my feet, with difficulty suppressing my rage, and 
remembering that it was a woman who spoke to me, "Farewell, 
madam," said I, through my grinded teeth. " Were you, indeed, 
the Bersanification of the World, whose mean notions you mouth 



A STRANGE STORY. 2 47 

so calmly, I could not disdain you more." I turned to the door, 
and left her still standing erect and menacing, the hard sneer on 
her resolute lip, the red glitter in her remorseless eye. 



CHAPTER LVIII. 

If ever my heart vowed itself to Lilian, the vow was now the 
most trustful and the most sacred. 1 had relinquished our engage- 
ment hefore, hut then her affection seemed, no matter from what, 
cause, so estranged from me, that though I might be miserable to 
lose Iter, 1 deemed that she would be unhappy in our union. Then, 
too, she was the gem and darling of the little world in which she 
lived ; no whisper assailed her : now, I knew that she loved me. 
I knew that her estrangement had been involuntary, I knew that 
appearances wronged her. and that they never could be ex- 
plained. I was in the true position of man to. woman :' Pwas 
the shield, the bulwark, the fearless confiding protector ! Re- 
sign her now, because the world babbled, because my career 
might be impeded, because my good name might be impeached 
— resign her, and, in that resignation, confirm all that was said 
against her! Could I do so, I should be the most craven of 
gentlemen, the meanest of men ! 

I went to Mrs. Ashleigh, and entreated her to hasten my union 
with her daughter, and lix the marriage day. 

I found the poor lady dejected and distressed. She was now 
sufficiently relieved from the absorbing anxiety for Lilian to be 
aware for the change on the face of that World which the 
woman I had just quitted personified and concentred ; she had 
learned the cause from the bloodless lips of Miss Brabazon. 

"My child — my poor child!" murmured the mother. "And 
she so guileless — so sensitive ! Could she know what is said, it 
would kill her. She would never marry you, Allen. She would 
never bring shame to you !" 

" She never need learn the barbarous calumny. Give her to me, 

ami at- once ; patients, fortune, fame, are not foufid only atL . 

Give her to me at once. But let me name a condition : I have a 
patrimonial independence — I have amassed large savings — I have 
my profession and my repute. I cannot touch her fortune — I can- 
not — never can ! Take it while you live ; when you die, leave it 
to accumulate tor her children, if children she have ; not to me ; 
not to her — unless 1 am dead or ruined!" 

"Oh, Allen, what a heart! — what a heart! No, not heart, 
Allen — that bird in its cage has a heart : soul — what a soul !" 



24S A STKANGE STORY. 



CHAPTER LIX. 

How innocent, was Lilian's virgin blush when I knelt to her and 
prayed tbat she would forestall the date that had been fixed for 
our union, and be my bride before the breath of the autumn had 
withered the pomp of the woodland and silenced the song of the 
birds. Meanwhile, I was so fearfully anxious that she should risk 
no danger of hearing, even of surmising, the cruel slander against 
her — slum d meet no cold contemptuous looks — above all, should 
lit safe from the barbed talk of Mrs. Poyntz — that I insisted on 
the necessity of immediate change of air and scene. I proposed 
that we should all three depart, the next day, for the banks (if my 
own beloved and native Windermere. By thai pure mountain air 
Lilian's health would be soon reestablished; in the church hal- 
lowed, to me by the graves of my fathers our vows could be plight- 
ed. No calumny had ever east a shadow over those graves. I 
fell as if my bride would be safer in the neighborhood of my 
mother's tomb. 

T carried my point: it was so arranged. Mrs. Ashloigh. how- 
ever, was reluctant to leave before she had seen her dear friend 
Margaret Poyntz. I had not the courage to tell her what she 
might expect to hear from that dear friend, but, as delicately as 1 
could, I informed her that I had already seen the Queen of the 
Hill, and contradicted the gossip that had reached her ; but that 
as yet, like other absolute sovereigns, the Queen of the Hill 
thought it politic to go with the popular stream, reserving all 
cheek on its direction till the rush of its torrent might slacken; and 
that it would be infinitely wiser in Mrs. Ashleigh to postpone con- 
versation with Mrs. Poyntz until Lilian's return to L as my 

wife ; slander by that time would have wearied itself out, and 
Mrs. Poyntz (assuming her friendship to Mrs. Ashleigh to lie sin- 
cere) would then be enabled to say with authority to her subjects, 
" Dr. Fenwick alone knows the facts of the story, and his marriage 
with Miss Ashleigh refutes all the gossip to her prejudii 

1 made, tbat evening, arrangements with a young and rising 
practitioner ; to secure attendance on my patients during my ab- 
sence. I passed the greater part of the night in drawing up mem- 
oranda to guide my proxy in each case, however humble the suf- 
ferer. This task finished, I chanced, in searching for a small 
microscope, the wonders of which I thought might interest and 
amuse Lilian, to open a drawer in which I kept the manuscript of my 
cherished Physiological Work, and, in so doiDg, my eye fell upon 



A STRAIYGK STORY. 249 

the wand which I had taken from Margrave. I had thrown it into 
that drawer on my return home after restoring Lilian to her 

mother's house, and, in the anxiety which had subsequently preyed 
upon my mind, had almost, forgotten the strange possession 1 had 
as strangely acquired. There it now lay, the instrument of agen- 
cies over the mechanism of nature which no doctrine admitted by 
my philosophy could accept, side by side with the presnm]jtuous 
work which had analyzed the springs by which nature is moved, 
and decided the principled by which reason metes out, from the 
inch of its knowledge, the I'bm of the Infinite Unknown. 

I took up the wand and examined it curiously. It was evident- 
ly the work of an aire far remote from our own, scored over with 
half-obliterated characters in some Eastern tongue, perhaps no 
longer extant. 1 found that it, was hollow within. A more accu- 
rate observation showed, in the centre of its hollow, an exceed- 
ingly hue thread-like wire, the unattached end of which would 
slightly touch the palm when the wand was taken into (lie band. 
Was it possible ihai there.mighi be a natural and even a simple 
canst- for the effects which this instrument produced? Could it 
collect, from that great fpciis of, animal heat and nervous 
energy which is placed in the -palm of the human hand, some such 
latent fluid as thai which Reichenbach calls the "odic," and 
which, according to him, "rushes through and pervades universal 
Nature I " After all, why not I For how many centuries lay un- 
known all the virtues of the loadstone and the amber I It is 
but as yesterday that the force:', of vapor have become to men 
genii more powerful than those conjured up by Aladdin : that light, 
at a touch, springs forth from invisible air: that thought finds a 
messenger swifter than the wings of the tabled Afrite. As, thus 
musing, my hand closed over the wand, J felt a wild thrill thr< 
my frame. 1 recoiled; 1 was alarmed lest (according to the plain 
common-sense theory of Julius Faber) I might be preparing ray 
imagination to form and to credit its own illusions. Hastily 1 laid 
down the wand. But then it, occurred to me, that whatever its 
properties, it b rve-d the purpose of the dread ' 

from whom it had been taken, that he might probably seek ti 
possess himself of it; he might to enter my lion 

o watchful keeping 

the incomprehensible instrun 

solved, the th me, and placed it in my 

traveling-trunk With such effects as 1 selected for use in I 
sion that was to commence with the morrow. I now laid down to 
rest, but I could not. sleep. The recollections of the painful in- 
terview with ' . ie vivid and haunting. 

the sentiment she had conceived for bat of no 

simple friendship — something . irtain- 

ly something else ; ami this conviction b »efore me that 

proud hard faoe, disturbed by a pang wrestled against but not 



250 A STRANGE STORY. 

subdued, and that clear metalic voice, troubled by the quiver of au 
emotion which, perhaps, she had never analyzed to herself. I did 
not need her own assurance to know that this sentiment was not to 
be confounded with a love which she would have despised as a 
weakness and repelled as a crime ; it was an inclination of the in- 
tellect, not a passion of the heart. But it admitted a jealousy 
little less keen than that winch has love for its cause ; so true it is 
that jealousy is never absent where self-love is always present. 
Certainly it was no susceptibility of sober friendship which had 
made the stern arbitress of a coterie ascribe to her interest in me 
her pitiless judgment of Lilian. Strangely enough, with the image 
of this archetype of conventional usages and the trite social life, 
came that of the mysterious Margrave, surrounded by all the at- 
tributes with which superstition clothes the being of the shadowy 
border land that lies beyond the chart of our visual world it- 
self. By what link were creatures so dissimilar riveted together 
in the metaphysical chains of association I Both had entered into 
the record of my life when my life admitted its own first romance 
of love. Through the aid of this cynical schemer 1 had been 
made known lo Lilian. At her house 1 had heard the dark story of 
that Louis (irayle, with whom, in mocking spite of my reason, con- 
jectures (which that very reason must depose itself before it could re- 
solve into distempered fancies) identified the enigmatical Margrave. 
And now both she, the representative of the formal world most op- 
posed to visionary creeds, and he. who gathered round him all the 
terrors which haunt the realm of fable, stood united against me — 
foes witli whom the intellect 1 had so haughtily cultured knew not 
how to cope. Whatever assault I might expect from either, I was 
unable, to assail again. Alike, then, in this, are the Slander and 
the Phantom ; that which appals us most, in their power over us is 
our impotence against them. 

But up rose the sun, chasing the shadows from the earth, and 
brightening insensibly the thoughts of man. After all, Margrave 
had been baffled and defeated, whatever the arts he had practised 
and the secrets he possessed. It was, at least, doubtful whether* 
his evil machinations would be renewed. He had seemed so in- 
capable of long-sustained fixity of purpose, that it was probable 
he was already in pursuit of some new agent or victim ; and as to 
this common-place, and conventional spectre, the so-called World, 
if it is everywhere to him whom it awes, it is nowhere to him who 
despises it. TVbat was the good or bad word of a Mrs. Poyntz to 
me? Ay. but to Lilian? There, indeed, I trembled; but still 
even in trembling it was sweet to think that my home would be her 
shelter — my choice her vindication. Ah. how unutterably tender 
and reverential Love becomes when it assumes the duties of the 
guardian, and hallows its own heart into a sanctuary of refuge for 
the beloved ! 



A STRANGE STORY. 251 



CHAPTER LX, 



The beautiful lake ! We two are on its grassy margin. Twi- 
light melting into night ; the stars stealing forth, one after one. 
What a wdnderful change is made within us when we eome from 
our callings amongst men, chafed, wearied, wounded ; gnawed by 
oar cares, perplexed by the doubts of our very wisdom, stung by 
the adder that dwells in cities — Slander; nay, even if renowned, 
fatigued with the burdens of the very names that we have won ; 
what a change is made within us when suddenly we find ourselves 
transported into the calm solitudes of Nature; — into scenes famil- 
iar to our happy dreaming childhood ; hack, hack from the dusty 
thoroughfares of our toil-worn, manhood fcp the golden fountain of 
our youth ! Blessed is the change, even when we have no com- 
panion beside us to whom the hear! can whisper its sense (if relief 
and joy. But if the One, in whom all our future is garnered up, 
be with us 1 here, inslead of that wearied World which has so magi-. 
cally vanished away from the eye and the thought, then does the 
change make one of those rare epochs of life in which the charm 
is the stillness. In the pause from all, by which our own turbulent 
Struggles for happiness trouble existence, we feel with a rapt 
amaze how calm a thing it is to be happy. And so as the night, 
in deepening, brightened, Lilian and 1 wandered by the starry 
lake. Conscious of no evil in ourselves, how secure we fell from 
evil ! A few days more — a few days more, and we two should he 
as one. And that thought we uttered in many forms of words, 
brooding over it in the long intervals of enamored silence. 

And when we turned back to the quiet inn at which we had 
taken up our abode, and her mothor, with her soft face, advanced 
to meet us. i said to Lilian : 

" Would that in these scenes we could fix our home for life, 
away and afar from the dull town we have left behind us, with the 
fret of its wearying cares and the jar of its idle babble !" 

" And why not, Allen 1 Why not l But no, you would not be 
happy."' 

" Not be happy, and with you ? Sceptic! by what reasonings 
do you arrive at that ungracious conclusion?" 

" The heart loves repose and the soul contemplation, but the 
mind needs action. Is it not, so ?" 

" Where learned yon that aphorism, out of place on such rosy 
lips?" 

" I learned it in studying you," murmured Lilian, tenderly. 

Here .Airs. Ashleigh joined us. For the first time i slept under 
the same roof as Lilian. And 1 forgot I hat the universe contained 
an enigma to solve or an enemy to fear. 



252 A STRANGE STORY. 



CHAPTER LXI. 

Twenty days — the happiest my life had ever known : — thus 
glided, on. Apart from the charm which love bestows on the be- 
loved, there was -that in Lilian's conversation which made her a 
delightful companions Whether it was that, in this pause from the 
toils of my career, my mind could more pliantly suple itself to 
her graceful invagination, or that her imagination itself was less 
vague and dreamy amidst those rural scenes which realized in 
their loveliness and grandeur its long-conceived ideals, that it had 
been in the petty garden-ground neighbored by the stir and hubbub 
of the busy town — in much that I had once slighted or contemned 
as the vaguenes of undisciplined fancy, I now recognized the spar- 
kle and play of an intuitive genius lighting up many a depth ob- 
scure to instructed thought. It is with some characters as with 
tin; subtler and more etherial order of poets. To appreciate them 
we must suspend the course of artificial life. In the city we call 
dreamers, on tin? mountain-top we rind them interpreters. 

In Lilian the sympathy with Nature was not, as in Margrave, 
fVom the joy and sense of Nature's lavish vitality, it was refined 
into exquisite perception of the diviner spirit by which that vital- 
ity is so informed. Thus, like the artist, from outward forms of 
beauty she drew forth the covert types, lending to things the most 
familiar exquisite meanings unconceived before. For it is truly 
said by a wise critic of old, that " the attribute of Art is to sug- 
infinitely more than it expresses," and such suggestions, pass- 
ing from the artist's innermost thoughts into the mind that receives 
them, open on and on into the Infinite of Ideas, as a moonlit wave 
struck by a passing oar impels wave upon wave along one track of 

light. ; 

So the days glided by, and brought the eve of our bridal morn. 
It had been settled that, after the ceremony (which was to be per- 
formed by license in the village church, at no great distance, which 
/.ied my paternal home, now passed away to strangers), we 
should n:.- •'■•[ excursion into Scotland; leaving Mrs. Ash- 

leigh to await our return at the little inn. 

I had retired to my own room to answer some letters from anx- 
ious patients, and having finished these, I looked into my trunk 
for a Guide-Book to the North, which I had brought with me. — 
me upon Margrave's wand, and remembering that 
brill which had passed through me when I last handled 
it, I drew it forth, resolved to examine calmly if I could detect 
the cause of the sensation. Tt was not now the time of night in 



A STRANGE STORY. 25j} 

which {he imagination is most liable to credulous impressions, laor 
was I now in the anxious and jaded state of mind in which such 
impressions may be tin- more readily conceived. The sun was 
slowly setting over the delicious landscape; the air cool and se- 
rene; my thoughts collected ; heart and conscience alike at peace. 
I took, then, the wand, and adjusted it to the palm of the hand as 
1 had done before. I felt the slight touch of the delicate wire within 
and again the thrill ! 1 did not this time recoil; I continued to 
grasp the wand, and sought deliberately to analyze my own sensa- 
tions in the contact. There came over me an increased conscious- 
ness of vital power; a certain exhilaration, elasticity, vigor, such 
as a strong cordial may produce on a fainting man. All the fo 
of my frame seemed refreshed, redoubled ; and as such el 
the physios] system arc ordinarily accompanied by correspondent 
on the mind, so I was sensible of a proud elation of spirits. 
a kind of defying, superb self-glorying. All feftr seemed blotted 
out from my though 1. as a, weakness impossible to the grandeur 
and might which belonged to Intellectual Man; 1 felt as it' it were 
a royal delight to scorn Earth and its opinions, brave Hades and 
its speotres. Rapidly this new-bom arrogance enlarged itself into 
desires vague but daring ; my mindreverted to the wild phenomena 
associated with its memories of Margrave, 1 said, half-aloud, " If 
a creature so beneath myself in constancy of will and comple- 
tion of thought can wrest from Nature favors so marvelous, wbal 
could not be won from her by me, her patient persevering seeker :' 
What if there be spirits around and about, invisible to the common 
eye. but whom we can submit to our control, and what if this rod 
be chatted with sonic occult fluid, that runs through all creation, 
and can be so deciphered as to establish communication wherever 
life and thought can reach to beings that live and think ! So would 
the mystics of old explain what perplexes me. Am I sure that 
the mystics of old duped themselves or their pupils '. This, then, 
this slight wand, light as a reed in my grasp, this, then, was the 
instrument by which Margrave sent his irresistible will through 
air and space, and by which I smote himself, in the midst of his 
tiger-like wrath, into the helplessness of a sick man's swoon ! Can 
the instrument at this distance still control him ; if now meditating 
evil, disarm and disable his ; ' Involuntarily as 1 rev< 

these ideas, I stretched forth the wand with a concentred c. 
of desire that its influence should reach Margrave and command 
him. And since 1 knew not his whereabouts, yet, was vaguely 
aware that, according to any conceivable theory by which the wand 
could be supposed to earn- its imagined virtues to definite goals in 
distant space, it should be pointed in the direction of the object it 
was intended to affect, so I slowly moved the wand as if describ- 
ing a circle, and lints, in some point of the circh — east, west, 
north, or south — the direction could noi fail to be tine. Before 1 
had performed half the circle, the wand of itself stopped, resisting 



254 A STRANGE STORY. 

palpably the movement of my hand to impel it onward. 'Had it, 
then, found the point to which my will was guiding it, obeying my 
will by some magnetic sympathy never yet comprehended by any 
recognized science ? I know not ; but I had not held it thus fixed 
for many seconds, before a cold air, well remembered, passed by 
me, stirring the roots of my hair ; and, reflected against the op- 
posite wall, stood the hateful Scin-Lceca. The Shadow was dim- 
mer in its light than when before beheld, and the outline of the 
features was less distinct, still it was the unmistakable lemur, 
or image of Margrave. 

And a voice was coveyed to my senses, saying, as from a great 
distance, and in weary yet angry accents, 

" You have summoned ffle ! Wherefore V 

I overcame the startled shudder with which, at first, I beheld the 
Shadow and heard the Voice. 

" I summoned you not," said I ; " I sought but to impose upon 
you my will, that you should persecute, with your ghastly influ- 
ences, me and mine no more. And now, by whatever authority 
this wand bestows on me, I so adjure and command you !" 

I thought there was a sneer of disdain on the lip through which 
the answer seemed to come : 

" Vain and ignorant ; it is but a shadow you command. My 
body you have cast into a sleep, and it knows not that the shadow 
is here ; nor, when it wakes, will the 'brain be aware of one remin- 
iscence of the words that you utter or the words that you hear." 

" What, then, is this shadow that simulates the body? Is it 
that which in popular language is called the soul?" 

" It is not ; soul is no shadow." 

" What then V 

" Ask not me. Use the wand to invoke intelligence higher than 
mine." 

" And how ?" 

" I will tell you not. Of yourself you may learn, if you guide 
the wand by your own pride of will and desire; but in the hands 
of him who has learned not the art, the wand has its dangers. — 
Again, I say you have summoned me ! Wherefore V 

" Lying shade, I summoned thee not." 

" So wouldst thou say to the demons, did they come in their ter- 
rible wrath, when the bungler, who knows not the springs that he 
moves, calls them up unawares, and can neither control nor dispel. 
Less revengeful than they, I leave thee unharmed, and depart !" 

" Stay. If, as thou sayest, no command 1 address to thee — to 
thee, who art only the image or shadow — can have effect on the 
body and mind of the being whose likeness thou art, still thou canst 
tell me what passes now in his brain. Does it now harbor schemes 
against me through the woman I love ? Answer truly." 

" I reply for the sleeper, of whom I am more than a likness, 
though only the shadow. His thought speaks thus : ' I know, 



A STRANGE STORY. 255 

Allen Fen-wick, that in thee is the agent I need for achieving the 
end that I seek. Through the woman thou lovest I hope to sub- 
ject thee. A grief that will harrow thy heart is at hand : when 
that grief shall befall, thou wilt welcome my coming. In me alone 
thy hope will be placed — through me alone wilt thou seek a path 
out of thy sorrow. I shall ask my conditions: they will make 
thee my tool and my slave ! " 

The Shadow waned — if was gone. I did not seek to detain it, 
nor, had 1 sought, could 1 have known by what process. But a 
new idea now possessed me. This Shadow, then, that had once 
so appalled and controlled me, was, by its own confession, nothing 
more than a Shadow ! It bad spoken of higher Intelligences ; from 
them 1 might learn what the Shadow could not reveal. As still I 
held the wand firmer and tinner in my grasp, my thoughts grew 
haughtier and bidder. Could the wand, then, bring those loftier 
beings thus darkly referred to before me I With that thought, in- 
tense and engrossing,! guided the wand towards tin' space, opening 
boundless and blue from the easement that let in the skies. The 
wand no longer resisted my hand. 

In a few moments 1 fell the floors of the room vibrate; the air 
was darkened ; a vaporous hazy cloud seemed to rise from the 
ground without the casement ; an awe, infinitely more deep and 
solemn than that which the Sein-Lara had caused in its earliest 
apparition, curdled through my veins, and stilled the very beat of 
my heart. 

At that moment, I beard, without, the voice of Lilian, singin 
simple sacred song which 1 had learned a1 my mother's knees, and 
taught to her the day before : singing low. and as with a warning 
angel's voice. By an irresistible impulse 1 dashed the wand to the 
ground, and bowed my head as I had bowed it when my infant 
mind comprehended without an effort, mysteries more solemn than 
those which perplexed me now. Slowly 1 raised my eyes, and 
looked round : the vaporous hazy cloud had passed away, or melted 
into the ambient rose tints amidst which the sun had sunk. 

Then, by one of those common reactions from a period of over- 
strained excitement, there succeeded to that sentiment of arrogance 
and daring with which these wild, half-conscious invocations 
been fostered and sustained, a profound humility, a warning fear. 

" "What! " said 1, inly. " have all those sound resolutions, which 
my reason founded on the wise talk of Julius Faber, melted away 
in the wrack of haggard dissolving fancies ! Is this my boasted 
intellect, my vaunted science! I — I, Allen Fenwiek, not only the 
credulous believer, but the blundering practitioner, of an evil magic ! 
Grant what may be possible, however uncomprehended — grant that 
in this accursed instrument of antique superstition there be s 
real powers — chemical, magnetic, no matter what — by which the 
imagination can be aroused, inflamed, deluded, so that it shapes 
the things I have seen, speaks in the tones I have heard — grant 



255 A STRANGE STORY. 

this; shall I keep ever ready, at the caprice of will, a constant 
tempter to steal away my reason and fool my senses 1 — or if, on 
the other hand, I force my sense to admit what all sober men must 
reject — if I unschool myself to believe that in what I have just 
experienced, there is no mental illusion, that sorcery is a fact, and 
a demon world has gates which open to a key that a mortal can 
forge — who but a saint would not shrink from the practice of pow- 
ers by which each passing thought of ill might find in a fiend its 
abettor % In either case — in any case — while I keep this direful 

relic of obsolete arts, I am haunted — cheated out of my senses 

unfitted for the uses of life. If, as my ear or my fancy informs me, 
— human grief — is about to befall me, shall I, in the sting of 
i inpatient sorrow, have recourse to an aid which, the same voice 
declares) will reduce me to a tool and a slave 1 ? — tool and slave to 
a bring I dread as a foe ! Out on these nightmares ! and away 
the thing that bewitches the brain to conceive them ! " 

1 rose; I took up the wand, holding it so that its hollow should 
not rest on the palm of the hand. I stole from the house by the 
back way, in order to avoid Lilian, whose voice I still heard, sing- 
ing low, on the lawn in front. I came to a creek, to the bank of 
which a boat was moored, undid its chain, rowed on to a deep par^ 
of the lake, and dropped the wand into its waves. It sank at once ; 
scarcely a ripple furrowed the surface, not a bubble rose from the 
deep. And, as the boat glided on, the star mirrowed itself on the 
split where the placid waters had closed over the tempter to evil. 

Light at heart I sprang again on the shore, and hastening to 
Lilian, where she stood on the silvered shining sward, clasped 
her to my breast. 

" Spirit of my life! " I murmured, " no enchantments for me but 
thine ! Thine are the spells by which creation is beautified, and, 
in that beauty, hallowed. 'What, though we can see «not into the 
measureless future from- the verge of the moment — what though 
sorrow may smite us while we are dreaming of bliss, let the future 
not rob me of thee, and a halm will be found for each wound. 
me ever as now, oh my Lilian ; troth to troth, side by side, 
till the grave ! " 

" And beyond the grave," answered Lilian, softly. 



A STRAXGE STORY. 



CHAPTER LXII. 

Our vows were exchanged at the altar — the rite which made 
Lilian my wife is. performed — we are returning from the church, 
amongst the hills, in which my lathers had Worshipped ; the joy- 
hells that rang for my marriage had pealed for my birth. Lilian 
had gone to her room to prepare for our bridal excursion ; while 
the carriage we have hired is waiting at tiie door. 1 am detaining 
her mother on the lawn, seeking to cheer and compose her spirits, 
painfully affected by that sense 'of change in the relations of child 
and parent which makes itself suddenly felt by the parent's heart 
on the day thai secures 1o the child another heart on which to lean. 

But Mrs. Ashleigh's was one of those gentle womanly natures 
which, if easily afflicted, are easily consoled. And, already smiling 
through Iter tears, she was about to quit me and join her daugh- 
ter, when one of the inn servants came to me with some letters, 
which had just been delivered by the postman. As [ look them 
from the servant, Mrs. Ashleigh asked if there were any letters for 

her ? She expected one from her housekeeper at L , who had 

been taken ill in her absence, and about whom the kind n istress 
felt anxious. The servant replied that there was no letter for her, 
but one directed to Miss Ashleigh, which he had just, sent up to 
the young lady. 

Mrs. Ashleigh did not doubt that her housekeeper had written to 
Lilian, whom she had known from the cradle, and to whom she 
was tenderly attached, instead of to her mistress, and saying some- 
thing to me to that effect, quickened her steps towards the house. 

1 was glancing over my own letters, chiefly from patients, with 
a rapid eye, when a cry of agony, a cry as of one suddenly strick- 
en to the heart, pierced my ear — a cry from within the house. 
" Heavens ! was not that Lilian's voice?'' The same doubt struck 
Mrs. Ashleigh, who had already gained the door. She rushed on, 
disappearing within the threshold, and cajling to me to follow. I 
bounded forward — passed her on the stairs — w T as in Lilian's room 
before her. 

My bride was on the floor, prostrate, insensible. So still, so 
colorless! that my first dreadful thought was that life lad gone. 
In her hand .was a letter, crushed, as with a convulsive sudden 
grasp. 

It was long before the color came back to her cheek, before the 

breath was perceptible on her lip. She woke, but not, to health, 

not to sense. Hours were passed in violent convulsions, in which 

I momently feared her death. To these succeeded stupor, lethargy, 

17 " 



258 'a strange story. 

not benignant sleep. That night, my bridal night, I passed as in 
some chamber to which I had been summoned to save youth from 
the grave. At length, life was. rescued, was assured ! Life came 
back, but the mind was gone. She knew me not, nor her mother. 
She spoke little and faintly ; in the words she uttered there was 
no reason. 

I pass hurriedly on ; my experience here was in fault, my skill 
ineffectual. Day followed day, and no ray came back to the dark- 
ened brain. We bore her, by. gentle stages, to London. I was 
sanguine of good result from skill more consummate than mine, 
and more specially devoted to diseases of the mind. I summoned 
the first advisers. In vain ! — in vain ! . 



CHAPTER LXIII. 

And the cause of this direful shock ? Not this time could it be 
traced to some evil spell, sonic phantasmal influence. The cause 
was clear, and might have produced effects as sinister on nerves of 
Stronger 'fibre if accompanied with a heart as delicately sensitive, 
an honor as exquisitely pure. 

The letter found in her hand was without name ; it was dated 

from L , and bore the postmark' of that town. It conveyed to 

Lilian, in the biting words which female malice can make so sharp. 
the tale we had sought sedulously to guard from her ear — lier 
flight, the construction that scandal put upon it. It affected for 
my blind infatuation a contemptuous pity ; it asked her to .pause 
before sic brought on the name 1 offered to her an indelible dis- 
grace. If she so decided, she was warned not to return to L , 

or to prepare there for the sentence that would exclude her from 
the society of her own sex. I cannot repeat more, I cannot min- 
ute down all that the letter expressed or implied, to wither the 
orange blossoms in a bride's wreath. The heart that took in the 
venom cast its poison on the brain, and the mind fled before the 
presence of a thought so deadly to all the ideas which its innocence 
had heretofore conceived. 

I knew not whom to suspect of the malignity of this mean and 
miserable outrage, nor did I much care to know. The handwrit- 
ing, though evidently disguised, was that of a woman, and, there- 
fore, had 1 discovered the author my manhood would have forbidden 
me the idle solace of revenge. Mrs.Poyntz, however resolute and 
pjtiless her hostility when once aroused, was not without a certain 
largeness of nature irreconcilable with the most dastardly of all 
tbo weapons that hatred or envy can supply to the vile. She had 



A STRANGE STORY. 259 

too lofty a self-esteem and too decorous a regard for the mora 1 sen- 
timent of the woi Id that she typified, to do, or connive at, an 
which degrades the gentlewoman. Putting her aside, what o 
female enemy had Lilian provoked i No matter ! What ot 
WOntan at L was worth the condescension of a conjecture ! 

After listening to all that the ablest of my professional brethren 
in the metropolis could suggest to guide me, and trying in \ in 

their remedies, I brought hack my charge to L . Retaining 

my former residence for the visits of patients, I engaged, for the 
privacy of my home, a house two miles from the town, secluded 
in its own grounds, and guarded l>y high walls. 

Lilian's mother removed to my mournful dwelling -place. Ab- 
bots' House, in the centre of that tattling coterie, had become dis- 
tasteful to ber,and to meif. was associated with thoughts of anguish 
and of terror. I could not, without a shudder, have entered its 
grounds — could not, without a stab at the heart, have seen gain 
the old fairy land round the Monk's Well, nor the dark cedar- 
tree under which Lilian's hand had been placed in mine. And a 
superstitious remembrance, banished while Lilian's angel face had 
brightened the fatal precincts, now revived in full force. The dy- 
ing man's curse— had it not keen fulfilled! 

A new occupant for the old house was found within a week after 

Mrs. Ashleigh had written from London to a house agent at L , 

intimating her desire to dispose of the lease. Shortly before we 
had gone to Windermere, Miss Brabazon had become enriched by 
a libera 1 life annuity bequeathed to her by her uncle, Sir Phelim. 
Her means thus enabled her to move, from the comparatively bum- 
ble lodging she -had hitherto occupied, to Abbots' House; but just 
as she had there commenced a series of ostentatious entertain- 
nients, implying an ambitious desire to dispute with Mrs. POyntz 
the sovreignty of the Hill, she was attacked by some severe 
malady which appeared complicated with spinal disease, and after 
my return to L I sometimes met her, on the spacious plat- 
form of the hill, drawn along slowly in a Bath chair, her livid 
face peering forth from piles of Indian shawls and Siberian furs, 
and the gaunt figure of Dr. Jones stalking by her side, taciturn 
and gloomy as some sincere mournef who conducts to the grave 
the patron on whose life he had conveniently lived himself. It 

was in the dismal month of February that I returned to L , and 

I took possession of my blighted nuptial home on the anniversary 
of the very day in which 1 had passed through the dead dumb 
world hum the naturalist's gloomy death-room. 



260 A STRANGE STORY. 



CHAPTER LXIV. 

Lilian's wondrous gentleness of nature did not desert her in the 
suspension of her reason. She was habitually calm — very silent; 
when she spoke it was rarely on earthly things — on things familiar 
to her past — things one could comprehend. Her thought seemed 
to have quitted the earth, seeking refuge in someimaginary heaven. 
She spoke of wanderings with her father as if he were living still; 
she did not seem to understand the meaning we attach to the 
word Death. She would sit for hours murmuring to herself; when 
one sought, to catch the words, they seemed iu converse with in- 
visible spirits. We found it cruel to disturb her at such times, 
for if left unmolested her face was serene — more serenely beauti- 
ful than I had seen it even in our happiest hours; but when we 
called her back to the wrecks of her real life, her eye became 
troubled, restless, anxious, and she would sigh — oh, so heavily ! 
At times, if we did not seem to observe her, she would quietly re- 
sume her once favorite accomplishments — drawing, music. And 
in these, her young excellence was still apparent, only the draw- 
ings were strange and fantastic : they had a resemblance to those 
with which the painter Blake, himse f a visionary, illustrated the 
Poems of the "Night Thoughts" and "The Grave." Faces of 
exquisite loveliness, forms of serial grace, coming forth from the 
bells of flowers, or floating upwards amidst the spray of fountains, 
their outlines melting away in fountain or in flower. So with her 
music; her mother could not recognize the airs she played, for a 
while so sweetly and with so ineffable a pathos, that one could 
scarcely hear her without weeping; and then would come, as if 
involuntarily, an abrupt discord, and, starting, she would cease and 
look around, disquieted, aghast. 

And still she did not recognize Mrs. Ashleigh nor myself, as her 
mother, her husband; but she had by degrees learned to distin- 
guish us both from others. To her mother she gave no name, 
seemed pleased to see her, but not sensibly to miss her when 
away ; me she called her brother : if longer absent than usual, me 
she missed. When, after the toils of the day, I came to join her, 
even if she spoke not, her sweet face brightened. When she sang, 
she beckoned me to come near to her, and looked at me fixedly, 
with her eyes ever tender, often teaiful ; when she drew, she would 
pause and glance over her shoulder to see that I was watching her, 
and point to the drawings with a smile of strange significance, as 
if they conveyed, in some covert allegory, messages meant for 



A STRANGE STORY. 261 

me ; so, at least, I interpreted her smile, and taught myself to 
say, " Yes, Lilian, I understand ! " 

And more than once, when I had so answered, she rose and 
kissed my forehead. I thought my heart would have broken when 
I felt that spirit-like melancholy kiss. 

And yet how marvelously the human mind teaches itself to ex- 
tract consolation from its sorrows. The least wretched of my 
hours were those that I passed in that saddened room, seeking how 
to establish fragments of intercourse, invent signs, by which each 
might interpret each, between the intellect I had so laboriously 
cultured, so arrogantly vaunted, and the fancies wandering through 
the dark, deprived of their guide in reason. It was something even 
of joy to feel myself needed for her guardianship, endeared and 
yearned for still by some unshattered instinct of her heart ; and 
when, parting from her for the night, I stole the moment in which 
on her soft face seemed resting least, of shadow, ask, in a trembling 
whisper, " Lilian, are the angels watching over you?" and she 
would answer, "Yes," sometimes in words, sometimes with a 
mysterious happy smile — then — then I went to my lonely room, 
comforted and thankful. 



CHAPTER LXV. 



The blow that, had fallen on my hearth effectually, inevitably 
killed all the slander that might have troubled me in joy. Before 
the awe of a great calamity the small passions of a mean malig- 
nity slink abashed. I had requested Mrs. Ashleigh not to men- 
tion the vile letter which Lilian had received. I would not give 
a triumph to the unknown calumniator, nor wring forth her vain 
remorse, by the pain of acknowledging an indignity to my dar- 
ling's honor ; yet, somehow or other, the true cause of Lilian's 
affliction had crept out — perhaps through the talk of servauts — 
and the Public shock was universal. By one of those instincts of 
justice that lie deep in human hearts, though in ordinary moments 
overlaid by many a worldly layer, all felt (all mothers felt, espe- 
cially) that innocence alone could have been so unprepared for 
reproach. The explanation I had previously given, discredited 
then, was now accepted without a question. Lilian's present state 
accounted for all that ill-nature had before misconstrued. Hor 
good name was restored to its maiden whiteness by the fate that 
had severed the ties of the bride. The formal dwellers on the 
Hill vied with the franker, warm-hearted households of Low 
Town in the uamelebs attentions by which sympathy and respect 



262 A STRANGE STORY. 

are rather delicately indicated than noisily proclaimed. Could 
Lilian have then recovered and been sensible of its repentant 
homage, how reverently that petty world would have thronged 
around her. And, ah ! could fortune and man's esteem have 
atoned for the. blight of hopes that had been planted and cherished 
on ground beyond their reach, ambition and pride might have been 
well contented with the largeness of the exchange that courted 
their acceptance. Patients on patients crowded on me. Sympathy 
with my sorrow seemed to create and endear a more trustful belief 
iu my skill. But the profession 1 had once so enthusiastically 
loved became to me wearisome, insipid, distasteful ; the kindness 
heaped upon me gave no comfort, it but brought before me more 
vividly the conviction that it came too late to avail me ; it could 
not restore to me the mind, the love, the life of my life, which lay 
dark ami shattered in the brain of my guileless Lilian. Secretly I 
felt a sullen resentment. I knew that to the crowd the resentment 
was unjust. The world itself is but an appearance ; who can 
blame it appearances guide its laws ? But to those who had been 
detached from the crowd by the professions of friendship — those 
who, when the slander was yet new, and might have been awed 
into silence had they stood by my side, — to the pressure of their 
hands, now, 1 had no response. 

Against Mrs. Poyntz, above all others, I bore a remembrance of 
unrelaxed, unuiitigatable indignation. Her schemes for her daugh- 
ter's marriage had triumphed : Jane was Mrs. Ashlcigh Sumner. 
Her mind was, perhaps, softened now that the object which had 
sharpened its worldly faculties was accomplished ; but in vain, on 
first hearing of my affliction, had this she Machiavel owned a 
humane remorse, and with all her keen comprehension of each fa- 
cility that circumstances gave to her will, availed herself of the 
general compassion to strengthen the popular reaction in favor of 
Lilian's assaulted honor — in vain had she written to me with a 
gentleness of sympathy foreign to her habitual characteristics — 
in vain besought me to call on her — in vain waylaid and accosted 
me with a humility that almost implored forgiveness; I vouch- 
safed no reproach, but I could imply no pardon. I put between 
her and my great sorrow the impenetrable wall of my freezing 
silence. 

One word of hers at the time that I had so pathetically besought 
her aid, and the parrot-flock that repeated her very whisper in 
noisy shrill ness, would have been as loud to defend as it had been 
to defame ; that vile letter might never have been written. Who- 
ever its writer, it surely was one of the babblers who took their 
malice itself from the jest or the nod of their female despot; and 
the writer might have justified herself in saying she did but coarse- 
ly proclaim what the oracle of worldly opinion, and the early friend 
of Lilian's own mother, had authorized her to believe. 

By degrees, the bitterness at my heart diffused itself to the cir- 



A STRANGE STORY. 263 

cumference of the circle in which my life went its cheerless me- 
chanical round. That cordial brotherhood with his patients, which 
is the true physician's happiest gift affd huihanest duty, forsook 
my breast The warning words of Mrs. Poyntz had come true. 
A patient that monopolized my thoughts awaited me at my own 
hearth ! INIy conscience became troubled; I felt that my skill 
was lessened. I said to myself, " The physician who, on enter- 
ing the sick room, feels, while there, something that distracts the 
finest powers of his intellect from the sufferer's case, is unfit for 
his falling." A year had scarcely passed since my fatal wedding- 
day, before I had formed a resolution to quit L , and abandon 

my profession; and my resolution was confirmed, and my goal 
determined, by a letter I received from Julius Faber. 

I had written at length to him, not many days after the blow 
thai had fallen on me. stating all circumstances as calmly and 
clearly as my grief would allow, for I held his skill at. a higher esti- 
mate than that of any living brother of my art, and I was not 
without hope in the efficacy el' his advice. The letter 1 now re- 
ceived from him had been begun, and continued at some length, 
before my communication reached him. And this earlier portion 
contained animated aud cheerful descriptions of his Australian 
life and home, which contrasted with the sorrowful tone of the 
supplement written in reply to the tidings with which 1 had wrung 
his friendly and tender heart. In this, the latter part of his let- 
ter, he suggested that if time had wrought no material change for 
the better, it might lie advisable to try the effect of foreign travel. 
Scenes entirely new might stimulate observation, and the observa- 
tion of things external withdraw the sense from that brooding over 
images delusively formed within, which characterized the kind of 
mental alienation I had described. " Let any intellect create for 
itself a visionary world, and all reasonings built on it are falla- 
cious ; the visionary world vanishes in proportion as we can arouse 
a predominant interest in the actual." 

This grand authority, who owed half his consummate skill as a 
practitioner to the scope of his knowledge as^ a philosopher, then 
proceeded to give me a hope winch 1 had not dared, of myself, to 
f. iiu. He said, "1 distinguish the case you so minutely detail 
from that insanity which is reason lost, ; here It seems rather to be 
reason held in suspense. Where (here is hereditary predisposi- 
tion, where there is organic change of structure in the brain — nay, 
where there is that kind of insanity which takes the epithet of 
moral, whereby the whole character becomes so transformed that 
the prime element of sound Understanding, conscience itself, is 
either erased or warped into the sanction of what, in a healthful 
state, it w<Uild most disapprove, it is only charlatans who promise 
effectual cure. Hut here I assume that there is no hereditary 
taint ; here 1 am convinced, from my own observation, that the 
nobility of the organs, all fresh as yet in the vigor of youth, would 



264 A STRANGE STORY. 

•rather -submit to death than to the permanent.overthrow of their 
equilibrium in reason ; here, where you tell me the character pre- 
serves all its moral attributes of gentleness and purity, and but 
over-indulges its own early habit of estranged contemplation ; 
here without deceiving you in false kindness, I give you the* guar- 
antee of my experience when I bid you 'hope !' I am persuaded 
that sooner or later, the mind, thus for a time affected, will right 
itself; because here, in the course of the malady, we do but deal 
with the nervous system. And that, once righted, and the mind 
once disciplined in those practical duties which conjugal life neces- 
sitates, the malady itself will never return ; never be transmitted 
to the children, on whom your wife's restoration to health may 
permit you to cpunt hereafter. If the course of travel I recom- 
nitni! and (he prescriptions I conjoin with that course fail you, let 
me know ; and though I would fain close my days in this land, I 
will come to you. I love you as my son. I will tend your wife as 
my daughter." 

Foreign travel ! The idea smiled on me. Julius Faber's com- 
panionship, sympathy, matchless skill ! The very thought seemed 
as a raft to a drowning mariner. I now read more attentively the 
earlier portions of his letter. They described, in glowing colors, 
the wondrous country in which he had fixed his home ; the joyous 
elasl icily of its atmosphere ; the freshness of its primitive pasto- 
ral life ; the strangeness of its scenery, with a Flora and a Fauna 
which have no similitudes in the ransacked quarters of the Old 
World. And the strong impulse seized me to transfer to the sol- 
itudes of that blithesome and hardy Nature a spirit no longer at 
home in the civilized haunts of men, and household gods that 
shrunk from all social eyes, and would fain have found a wilder- 
ness for llie desolate hearth, on which they had ceased to be sabred 
if unveikd. As if to give practical excuse and reason for the 
idea that seized me, Julius Faber mentioned, incidentally, that the 
house and property of a wealthy speculator in his immediate neigh- 
borhood were on sale at a price which seemed to me alluringly tri- 
vial, and, according to his judgment, far below the value they 
would soon reach in the hands of a more patient capitalist. He 
wrote at the period of the agricultural panic in the colony which 
preceded the discovery of its earliest gold fields. But his geolog- 
ical science had convinced him that strata' within and around 
the property now for sale were auriferous, and his intelligence ena- 
bled him to predict how inevitably man would be attracted toward 
the gold, and how surely the gold would fertilize the soil and en- 
rich its owners. He described the house thus to be sold — in case 
I might know of a purchaser ; it had been built at a cost unusual 
in those early times, and by one who clung to English tastes 
amidst Australian wilds, so, that in this purchase a settler would 
escape the hardships he had then ordinarily to encounter ; it was, in 
short, a home to which a man, more luxurious than I, might bear 



A STRANGE STORY. 265 

a bride with wants less simple than those which now sufficed for 
my darling Lilian. 

This communication dwelt on my mind through the avocations 
of the day on which 1 received it. and in the evening- 1 read all, 
except the supplement, aloud to Mrs. Ashleigh in her daughter's 
presence. I desired to see if Fahcr's description of the country 
and its life, which in themselves were extremely spirited and stri- 
king, would arouse Lilian's interest. At first she did not seem to 
heed me while 1 read, hut when I came to Faber's loving account 
of little Amy. Lilian turned her eyes towards me, and evidently 
listened with attention, lie wrote how the Child had already 
come the most useful person in the simple household. How watch- 
ful the quickness of the heart had made the service of the eye; 
all their associations of comfort had grown round her active 
noiseless movements ; it was she who had contrived to monopo- 
lize the management, or supervision of all that .added to Home 
the nameless interior charm ; under her eyes the rude furniture of 
the log-house grew inviting with English neatness; she took 
charge of the dairy; she had made the garden gay with flowers 
selected from the wild, and suggested the tivlliscd walk, already 
covered with hardy vine ; she was their confidant in every plan of 
improvement, their comforter in every anxious doubt, their nurse 
in every passing ailment ; her very smile a refreshment in the 
the weariness of daily toil. '• How all that is best in womanhood," 
wrote the old man, with the enthusiasm which no time had reft 
from his hearty healthful genius, " I low all that is best in woman- 
hood is here opening fast into flower from the hud of the infant's 
soul ! The atmosphere seems to suit it — the child-woman in the 
child-world!" 

I heard Lilian sigh ; I looked towards her furtively ; tears 
stood in her softened eyes; her lip was quivering. Presently, 
she began to rub her right hand over the left — over the wedding- 
ring — at first, slowly ; then with quicker movement. 
. " It-is not here." she said impatiently ; " it is not here !" 

" What is not here !" asked Mrs. Ashleigh, hanging over her. 

Lilian leant her head back on her mother's bosom, and answered 
faintly : 

" The stain ! some one said there was a stain on this hand. I 
do not see it — do you ?" 

"There is no stain, never was," said I; " the hand is white as 
your own innocence, or the lily from which you take your name." 

"Hush ! you do not know my name. 1 will whisper it. Soft! 
— my name is Nightshade ! Do you want to know where the lily 
is now, brother.' I will tell you. There, in that letter — you call 
her Amy — she is the lily — take her to your breasl — hide her. — 
Hist ! what are. those bells \ Marriage-beds. Do not let her 



266 A STRANGE STORT. 

bear them. For there is a cruel wind that whispers the bells, and 
the bells ring out what it whispers, louder and louder, 

' Stain on lily, 
Shame on lily, 
Wither lily.' 

" If she hears what the wind whispers to the bells, she will creep 
away into the dark, and then she, too, will turn to Nightshade. 1 '' 

" Lilian, look up, awake ! You have been in a long, long 
dream : it is passing away. Lilian, my beloved, my blessed 
Lilian ! " 

Never till then had I heard from her even so vague an allusion 
to the fatal calumny, and its dreadful effect ; and while her words 
now pierced my heart, it beat, amongst its pangs, with a thrilling 
hope. 

But, alas ! The idea that had gleamed upon her had vanished 
already. She murmured something about Circles of Fire, and a 
Veiled "Woman in black garments; became restless, agitated, 
and unconscious of our presence, and finally sank into a heavy 
sleep! 

That night (my room was next to hers with the intervening door 
open), I heard her cry out. I hastened to her side. She was still 
asleep, but there was an anxious laboring expression on her young 
face, and yet not an expression wholly of pain — for her lips were 
parted with a smile — that glad yet troubled smile with which one 
who has been revolving some subject of perplexity or fear, greets 
a sudden thought that seems to solve the riddle, or prompt the 
escape from danger ; and as I softly took her hand she returned 
my gentle pressure, and inclining towards me, said, still in sleep, 

" Let us go." . • 

"Whither?" I answered, under my breath, so as not to awake 
her ; " is it to see the child of whom I read, and the land that is 
blooming out of the earth's childhood ? " 

"Out of the dark into the light; where the leaves do not 
change : where the night is our day, and the winter our summer. 
Let us go — let us go ! " 

" We will go. Dream on undisturbed, my bride. Oh, that the 
dream could tell you that my love has not changed in our sorrow, 
holier and deeper thaif on* the day in which our vows were ex- 
changed ! In you still all my hopes fold their wings : where you 
are, there still I myself have my dreamland ! " 

The sweet face grew bright as I spoke ; all trouble left the 
smile; softly she drew her hand from my clasp, and rested it for 
a moment on my bended head, as if in blessing. 

I rose : stole back to my own room, closing the door, lest the 
sob 1 could not. stifle should mar her sleep. 



A STRANGE STORY. 267 



CHAPTER LXVI. 

I unfolded my now prospects to Mm Ashleigh. &he was inure 
easily reconciled In them than 1 could have Supposed, judging 
her habits, which were naturally indolent, and averse to all thai 
disturbed their oven tenor. But the great grief which had befallen 
her had roused up that strength of devotion which lies dormant in 
all hearis that are capable of loving- another more than self. With 
her full consent I wrote to Faher, communicating my intentions, 
instructing trim to purchase the property he had so commended, 
and inclosing my banker's order for the amount, on an Australian 
firm. 1 now announced my intention to retire from my profession ; 
made prompt arrangement with a successor to my practice; dis- 
posed of my two houses at L ; fixed the day of my departure. 

Vanity was dead wilhin me, or 1 might have been gKatifii 
sensation which the news of my design created. My faults became 
at once forgotten; such good qualities as I might possess were 
exaggerated: The public regret vented and consoled itself in a 
ly testimonial, to which even the poorest of my patients insist- 
ed on the privilege to contribute, graced with an inscription flatter- 
ing enough to have served for the epitaph on some great man's 
tomb. No one who has served an art and striven for a name, is a 
Stoic to the esteem of others, and sweet indeed would such honors 
have been to me had not publicity itself seemed a wrong to the 
sanctity of that affliction which set Lilian apart from the movement 
and the glories of the world. 

The two persons most active in "getting up " this testimonial 
were, nominally, Colonel 1'ovniz — in truth, his wife — and my old 
disparager, Mr. vigors! It is a long time since my narrative has 
referred to Mr. Vigors. It is due to him now to state, in his capa- 
city of magistrate, and in his own way, he had been both active 
and delicate in the inquiries set on foot for Lilian during the Un- 
happy time in which she had wandered, spellbound, from her 
home. He. alone of all the more influential magnates of the town, 
had upheld her innocence against the gossip that aspersed it; and 

during the last trying year of my residence at L . he had sought 

me with frank and manly confessions of 'his regret for his former 
prejudice againsl me, and assurances 'of the respect in which he 
tiad held me ever since my marriage — marriage but in rite — with 
Lilian. He had then, strong in his ruling passion, besought me to 
consult his clairvoyants as to her case. 1 declined this invitat 
so as not to affront him — declined it. not as i should once have 
done, but with no word nor look of incredulous disdain. The fact 



268 A STRANGE STORY. 

was, that I had conceived a solemn terror of all practices and 
theories out of the beaten track of sense and science. Perhaps in 
my refusal I did wrong. I know not. I was afraid of my own 
imagination. He continued not less friendly in spite of my refusal. 
And, such are the vicissitudes of human feeling, I parted from him 
whom I had regarded as my most bigoted foe, with a warmer sen- 
timent of kindness than for any of those on whom I had counted on 
friendship. He had not deserted Lilian.' It was not so with Mrs. 
Poyutz. I would have paid tenfold the value of the testimonial to 
have erased, from the list of those who subscribed to it, her hus- 
band's name. 

The day before I quitted L , and some weeks after I had, in 

fact, renounced my [tract ice, I received an urgent entreaty from 
Miss Brabazon to call on her. She wrote in lines so blurred that 
I could with difficulty decipher them, that she was very ill, given 
over by Dr. Jones, who had been attending her. She implored 
my opinion. 



I 



CHAPTER LXVII. 

On reaching the house, a formal man-servant, with indifferent 
face, transferred me to the guidance of a hired nurse, who led me 
up the stairs, and, before 1 was well aware of it, into the room in 
which Dr. Lloyd had died. Widely different, indeed, the aspect of 
the walls, the character of the furniture. The dingy paper-haug- 
ings were replaced by airy muslins, showing a rose-colored ground 
through their fanciful open-work ; luxurious fauteuils, gilded ward- 
robes, full-length mirrors, a toilet-table tricked out with lace and 
ribbons, and glittering with an array of silver gewgaws and jew- 
eled trinkets, — all transformed the sick chamber of the simple man 
of science to a boudoir of death for the vain coquette. But the 
room itself, in its high lattice and heavy ceiling was the same — as 
the coffin itself has the same confines whether it be rich in velvets 
and bright with blazoning, or rude as the pauper's shell. 

And the bed, with its silken coverlid, and its pillows edged with 
the thread-work of Louvain, stood in the same sharp angle as that 
over which had flickered the frowning smoke-reek above the dying 
resentful foe. As I approached, a man, who was seated beside the 
sufferer, turned round his face, and gave me a silent kindly nod of 
recognition. He was Mr. C, one of the clergy of the town, the 
one with whom I had the most frequently come into contact 
wherever the physician resigns to the priest the language that bids 
man hope. Mr. C, as a preacher, was renowned for his touching 
eloqeunce ; as a pastor, revered for his benignant piety ; as friend 



A STRANGE STORY. 269 

and neighbor, beloved for a sweetness of nature which seemed to 
regulate all the movements of a mind eminently masculine by the 
beat of a heart tender as the gentlest woman's. 

This good man, then whispering something to the sufferer which 

I did not overhear, stole towards me, took me by the hand, and 
said, also in a Whisper, "Be merciful as Christians are." lie led 
me to the bedside, there left, me, went out, and closed the door. 

"Do you think I am really dying. Dr. Fenwick V said a feeble 
voice. / 

" I fear Dr. Jones has misunderstood my case. 1 wish I had 
called you in at the first, but — but 1 could not — I could not ! Will 
yon feel my pulse ! Don't you think- you could do me good ?" 

I had no need to feel the pulse in that skeleton wrist ; the aspect 
of the face sufficed to tell me that death was drawing near. 

Mechanically, however. I went through the hackneyed formula* 
of professional questions. This vain ceremony done ; as gently 
and delicately as 1 could, I implied the expediency of concluding, 
if not yet settled, those affairs which relate to this world. 

" This duty," 1 said, "in relieving the mind from cares for others 
to whom we owe the forethought of affection, often relieves the 
body also of many a gnawing pain, and sometimes, to the surprise 
of the most experienced physician, prolongs life itself." 

"Ah," said the old maid, peevishly, "I understand! But it is 
not my will that troubles me. I should not be left to a nurse from 
a hospital if my relations did not know that my annuity dies with 
me; and I forestalled it in furnishing this house, Dr. Fenwick. and 
all these pretty things will be sold to pay those horrid tradesmen ! 
, — very hard ! so hard ! — jusl as I had got things about me in the 
way I always said I would have them if 1 could ever afford it. I 
always said I would have my bedroom hung with muslin, like dear 
Lady L.'S; — and the drawing-room in geranium-colored silk: so 
pretty. You have not seen it : you would not know the house. Dr. 
Fenwick. And just when all is finished, to lie taken away, and 
thrust into the grave. It is so cruel !" And she began to weep. 
Her emotion brought on a violent paroxysm, which, when she re- 
covered from b- bad produced one of those startling changes of 
mind that are sometimes witnessed before death : changes whereby 
the whole character of a life seems to undergo solemn transforma- 
tion. The hard will become gentle, the proud meek, the frivolous 
earnest. That awful moment when the Ihings of earth pass away 
like dissolving scenes, leaving death visible on the back-ground by 
glare that shoots up in the last flicker of life's lamp. 

As when she lifted her haggard face from my shoulder, ami 
heard my pitying, soothing voice, it was not a grief of a tritler at 
the loss of fondled toys that spoke in the falling lines of her lip, in 
the woe of her pleading eyes. 

"So this is death," she said. " I feel it hurrying on. I must 
speak. I promised Mr. 0. that I would. Forgive me, can you — 



270 A STRANGE STORY. 

can you 1 That letter — that letter to Lilian Ashleigh, I wrote it ! 
Oh, do not look at me so terribly ; I never thought it could do such 
evil ! And am I not punished enough 1 I truly believed, when I 
wrote, that Miss Ashleigh was deceiving you, and once I was silly 
enough to fancy that you might have liked me. But I had another 
motive: I had been so poor all my life — I had become rich unex- 
pectedly ; I set my heart on this house — I had always fancied it — 
and I thought if 1 could prevent Miss Ashleigh marrying you, and 
scare l.er and her mother from coming back to L — ■. — , 1 could get 
the house. And I did get it. Whal for 1 — to die. I had not been 
here a week before I got the hurt which is now killing me — a fall 
down the stairs — coming out of this very room; the stairs had 
been polished. If I had stayed in my old lodging, it would not 
have happened.' Oh, say you forgive me! Say, say it, even if 
you do not feel you can ! Say it!" And the miserable woman 
grasped me by the arm as Dr. Lloyd had grasped me. 

I shaded my averted face with my hand ; my heart heaved with 
the agony of my supprest passion. A wrong, however deep, only 
to myself, I cou d have pardoned without effort ; such a wrong to 
Lilian, — no ! 1 could not say, "I forgive." 

The dying wretch was, perhaps, more appalled by my silence 
than she would have been by my reproach. Her voice grew shrill 
in her despair. 

" You wi.l not pardon me ! I shall die with your curse on my 
head. Mercy ! mercy ! That good man, Mr. , assured me that 
you would be merciful. Have you, never wronged another ? Has 
the Evil One never tempted you?" 

Then 1 spoke in broken accents: "Me! Oh, had it been me 
you defamed — but a young creature so harmless, so unoffending, 
and for so miserable a motive !" 

" But 1 tell you, 1 swear to you, I never dreamed I could cause 
such sorrow : and thai young man, that Margrave, put it. into my 
head !" 

Margrave! He had left L long before that letter was 

writ 1 1 

" But he came back for a day just; before I wrote ; it was the 
very day. I met him in the lane yonder. He asked after you — after 
Miss Ashleigh ; and when lie spoke he laughed, and I said, ' Miss 
Ashleigh had been ill, and was gone away ;' and lie laughed again. 
And 1 thought, he knew more than he would tell me, so I asked 
him if he supposed Mrs. Ashleigh would come back, and said how 
much I should like to take this house if she did not; and again be 
laughed, and said, 'Birds never stay in the nest after the young 
ones are hurt/ and went away singing. When I got. home, his 
laugh and his song haunted me. I thought 1 saw him still in my 
room, prompting me to write, and I sat down and wrote. Oh, 
pardon, pardon me ! I have been a foolish poor creature, but 
never meant to do such harm. The Evil One tempted me ! There 



A STRANGE STORY. 271 

he is, near me now ! I see him yonder ! there, at the doorway ! 
He conies to claim me ! As you hope for mercy yourself, free me 
from him ! Forgive me !" 

I made an effort over myself. In naming Margrave as her 
tempter, the woman had suggested an excuse echoed from that 
innermost cell of my mind, which I recoiled from gazing into, for 
there I should hehold his image. Inexpiable though the injury 
she had wrought against me and mine, still the woman was human 
— fel low-Creature — like myself; — but he .' 

I took in both my hands the hand that still pressed my arm, and 
said with a firm voice, 

" Be comforted. In the name of Lilian, my wife, I forgive you 
for her and for me as freely and as fully as we are enjoined by 
Him, against whose precepts the best of us daily sin, to forgive — 
we children of wrath — to forgive one another !" 

" Heaven bless you ! — oh, bless you 1" she murmured, sinking 
back upon her pillow. 

" Ah !" thought I, " what if the pardon I grant for a wrong far 
deeper than I inflicted on him whose imprecation smote me in this 
chamber, should, indeed, he received as atonement, and this 
blessing on the lips of the dying annul the dark curse that the dead 
has left on niv path through the Valley of the Shadow!" 

I left my patient sleeping quietly, — the sleep that precedes the 
last. As I went down the stairs into the hall, I saw Mrs. Poyntz 
standing at the threshold, speaking to the man-servant and the 
nurse. 

I would have passed her with a formal how, hut she stopped me. 

" I came to impure after poor Miss Brabazon," said she. •• You 
can tell me more than the servants can : is ihere no hope ?" 

"Let the nurse go up and watch beside her. She may pass 
away in the sleep into which she has fallen." 

"Allen Feiiwick, I must speak with you — nay, but for a few 

minutes. I hear that you leave L to-morrow. It is scarcely 

among the chances of life that we should meet again." While 
thus saying, she drew me along the lawn down the path that led 
towards her own home. " I wish," said she, earnestly, L'thatyoU 
.could part with a kindlier feeling towards me ; hut I can scarcely 
expect it. Could 1 put myself in your place, and he moved by 
your feelings, I know that I should he implacable; hut I " 

•• Bui you. madam, are The World ! and The World governs 
itself, and dictates to others, by laws which seem harsh to those 
who ask from its favor the services which the World cannot ten- 
der, for the World admits favorites hut ..ignores friends. You did 
hut act to me as the World ever acts to those who mi3take its 
favor for its friendship." 

" It is true," said Mrs. Poyntz, with blunt candor; and we con- 
tinued to walk on silently. At length she said, abruptly, " But do 
you not rashly deprive yourself of your only consolation in sor- 



272 A STRANGE STORY. 

row? When the heart suffers, does your skill admit any remedy 
like occupation to the mind ? Yet you abandon that occupation to 
which your mind is most accustomed ; you desert your career ; 
you turn aside, in the midst of the race, from the fame which 
awaits at the goal ; you go back from civilization itself, and dream 
that all your intellectual cravings can find content in the life 
of a herdsman, amidst the monotony of a wild ! No, you will re- 
pent, for you are untrue to your mind." 

" I am sick of the word ' mind ! ' " said I, bitterly. And there- 
with I lvlapsed into musing. 

The enigmas which had foiled my intelligence in the unraveled 
Sybil Book of Nature were mysteries strange to every man's nor- 
mal practice of thought, even if reducible to the fraudulent impres- 
sions of outward sense. For illusions in a brain otherwise healthy 
suggest problems in our human organization which the colleges 
that record them rather guess at than solve. But the blow which 
had shattered my life had been dealt by the hand of a fool. — 
Here, there were no mystic enchantments. Motives the most 
common -place and paltry, suggested to a brain as trivial and shal- 
low as ever made the frivolity of woman a theme for the satire of 
poets, had sufficed, in devastating the field of my affections, to 
blast the uses for which I had cultured my mind; and had my in- 
tellect been as great as Heaven ever gave to man, it would have 
been as vain a shield as mine against the shaft that had lodged in 
my heart. While I had, indeed, been preparing my reason and 
my fortitude to meet such perils, weird and marvelous. as those by 
which tales round the winter hearth scare the credulous child — a 
contrivance so vulgar and hackneyed that, not a day passes but 
what some hearth is vexed by an anonymous libel — had wrought a 
calamity more dread than aught which my dark guess into the 
Shadow-Land, unpierced by Philosophy, could trace to the prompt- 
ing of malignant witchcraft. So ever, this truth runs through all 
legends of ghost and demon — through the uniform records of what 
wonder accredits and science rejects as the supernatural — lo ! the 
dread machinery whose wheels roll through Hades! What need 
such awfjul engines for such mean results ? The first blockhead 
we meet in our walk to our grocers can tell us more than the 
ghost tells us ; the poorest envy we ever aroused hurts us more 
than the demon ! How true an interpreter is Genius to Hell as to 
Earth. The Fiend comes to Faust, the tired seeker of knowledge ; 
Heaven and Hell stake their cause in the Mortal's temptation. 
And what does the Fiend to astonish the Mortal 1 Turn wine 
into fire, turn love into crime. We need no Mephistophels to ac- 
complish these marvels every day ! 

Thfi's silently thinking, I walked by the side of the world-wise 
woman ; and when she next spoke, I looked up and saw that we 
were at the Monk's Well, where I had first seen Lilian gazing into 
heaven ! 



A PTKANOB S'i'OKY. ^7^ 

Mrs. Poyntz had, as we walked, placed her hand on my arm. and 
turning abruptly from the path into the glaae, I found myself 
standing by her side, in the scene where a new sense of being had 
first disclosed to my sight the lines with which Love, the passion- 
ate beautifier, turns into purple and gold the gray of the common 
air. Thus, when romance has ended in sorrow, and the Beautiful 
fades from the landscape, the trite and positive forms of life, 
banished for a time, reappear, and deepen our mournful remem- 
brance of the glory they replace. And the Woman of the World, 
finding how little I was induced to respond to her when she had 
talked of myself, began to speak in her habitual, clear, ringing 
cents of her own social schemes and devices: 

" I shall miss you when you are gone, Allen Fenwick, for though, 
during the last year or so. all actual intercourse between US has 
: my interest in you gave some occupation to my thoughts, 
when 1 sal alone — having lost my main object of ambition in set- 
tling my daughter, and having no longer any one in tin 1 house 
wiiii whom i could talk of the future, or for whom I could form a 
project. H is so wearisome to count the changes which pass with- 
in us. that we take interest, in the changes that parses without. — 
Poyntz still lias his weather-glass ; 1 have no longer my .Jane." 

•• I cannot linger With you on this spot," said I, impatiently, 
turning back into the path; she followed, treading over faHen 
leaves. And unheeding my interruption, she thus continued her 
alls : 

my mind as you seem to be of yours ; I 
am only somewhat tired of the little cage in which, since h has 
been atone, h ruffles its piurnes against the flimsy wires thai con- 
fine it from wider space. I shall take up my home for a time with 
the new-married couple: they want, me. Ashleigh .Sumner has 
come into Parliament, lie means to attend regularly and work 
hard, but he does not like Jane to go into the world by herself, and 
he wishes her to go into the world, because he wants a Wife to dis- 
play his wealth for the improvement of his position. In Ash 
ler's house I shall have ample scope for my energies, sue 
they are. I have a curiosity to see the few that perch on the 
wheels of the. Suite, and say, ' It is we who move the wheels ! ' 
ft will amuse me to learn if I can maintain in a capital the au- 
thority 1 have won in a country town; if not, 1 can but return to 
a all principality. Wherever I live I must sway, no1 serve 
if I I ought, for in Jane's beauty and Ashleigh's 

fortune 1 have material for the woof of ambition, wanting which 
here 1 fall asleep over my knitting — if 1 succeed, there will be 
plough to o< iipy the rest of my life. Ashleigh Sumner mm 
a Power; the Power will be represented and enjoyed by my child, 
and created and maintained by me ! Allot Fenwick, do as I do. 
Bo world with the world, and it will only be in moments of 
spleen aud chagrin that you will siyh to think that t.h« heart mav 
It 



§74 A STRANG K STOKY. 

he void when the mind is full. Confess, you envy ine while you 
listen." 

" Not so ; all that to you seems so great, appears to me so small ! 
Nature alone is always grand, in her terrors as well as her charms. 
The World for you; Nature for me. Farewell !" 

" Nature," said Mrs. Poyutz, oompassionately. " Poor Allen 
Fenwick ! Nature indeed — intellectual suicide ! Nay, shake 
hands, then, if for the last time." 

So we shook hands and parted, where the wicket-gate and the 
stone stairs separated my blighted fairyland from the common 
thoroughfare. 



CHAPTER LXVIII. 

That night, as I was employed in collecting the books and 
manuscript which I proposed to take with me, including my long- 
suspended physiological work, and such standard authorities as 1 
might want to consult or refer to in the portions yet incompleted, 
my servant entered to inform me, in answer to the inquiries 1 had 
sent him to make, that Miss Brabazon had peacefully breathed her 
last an hour before. Well ! my pardon had perhaps soothed her 
last moments ; but how unavailing her death-bed repentance to 
undo the wrong she had done ! 

I turned from that thought, and glancing at the work into which 
1 had thrown all my learning, methodized into system with all my 
art, 1 recalled the pity which Mrs. Poyntz had expressed for my 
meditated waste of mind. The tone of superiority which this in- 
carnation s of common sense accompanied by uncommon will, as- 
sumed over all that was loo deep or too high for her comprehension, 
had sometimes amused me ; thinking over it now, it piqued. I said 
to myself, " After all, I shall bear with me such solace as intellec- 
tual occupation can afford. ' I shall have' leisure to complete this 
labor, and a record that I have lived and thought may outlast all 
the honors which worldly ambition can bestow upon an Ashleigh 
.Sumner ! " And, as I so murmured, my hand mechanically 
selecting the books I needed, fell on the Bible that Julius Faber 
had given to me. 

It opened at the Second Book of Esdras, which our Church 
places among the Aporcrypha, and is generally considered by 
scholars to have been written in the first or second century of the 
Christian era* But in which the questions raised by man in the 



*" Such is the supposition of John. Dr. Lee, however, is of opinion that 
the author was contemporary, and, indeed, identical with the author of the 
Book of Enoch. 



A STRA.N'OE STORY. 275 

remotest ages, to which we can trace back his desire " to compre- 
hend the way of the Most High," are invested with a grandeur of 
thought and sublimity of word to which I know of no parallel in 
writers we call profane. 

eye fell on this passage in the lofty argument 
the Angel, whose name was Uriel, and the Prophet, perplexed by 
hisown cravings for knowledge : 

" He- (the Angel) answered me, and! said, I went into a forest, 
into u plain, and the trees look counsel, 

"And said. Come, let us go and make war against the sea that 
it may depart away before us, and that we may make us more 
woods. 

"The floods of the sea also in like manner took counsel, and 
said, Come, let us go up and subdue the woods of the plain, that 
there also we may make us another country. 

"The thought -of the wood was in vain, for the fire came and 
consumed it. 

''The thought of the floods of the sea came likewise to nought, 
iie sand stood up and stopped them. 

"If thou wert judge now betwixt these two, whom wouldstthou 
begin to justify, or whom wouldst thou condemn I 

" i answered and said, Verily it is a foolish thought that they 
have both devised ; for the ground is given unto the wood, and the 
sea also hath his place to hear his floods. 

" Then answered he me and said, Thou hast given a right judg- 
ment ; hut why judges*; thou not- thyself also .' 

" For like as the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea to 
»ods: even so they thai, dwell upon the earth may understand 
nothing but that which is upon the earth, and He that dwelleth 
above the heavens may only understand the things that are al 
the height of the heavens."' 

I paused at those words, and, closing the Sacred Volume, fell 
into deep, unquiet thought. 



CI I A IT Kl! LXIX. 

I i ; that the voyage would have had some beneficial 

on Lilian; but no 006 or bad, was perceptible, 

except, perhaps, a deeper silence a -cutler calm. She loved to sit 
on the deck when the nights were fair, and the stars mirrowed on 
the deep. BC6, thus, as I stood beside her, bending 0V6T 

; ;:il ol the vessel, am! gazing on the long wake of light 
whieu the moon made amidst the darkness of an ocaan to which 



•^?G A STKANGB STORY. 

no shore could be seen, I said to myself, " Where is my track 
of light through the measureless future? Would that I could 
believe as I did when a child ! Woe is me, that all the reason- 
ings I take from my knowledge should lead me away from the 
comfort which the peasant who mourns finds in faith ! Why should 
riddles so dark have been thrust upon me? — me, no fond child of 
fancy : me, sober pupil of schools the severest, Yet what marvel 
— the strangest my senses have witnessed or feigned in the fraud 
they have palmed on me — is greater than that by which a simple 
affection, that all men profess to have known, has changed the 
courses of life pre-arranged by my hopes and confirmed by my 
judgment? How calmly before 1 knew love I have anatomized 
its mechanism, as the tyro who dissects the web-work of tissues 
and nerves in the dead ! Lo ! it lives, lives in me ; and, in liv- 
ing, escapes from my scalpel and mocks all my knowledge. Can 
love be reduced to the realm of the senses ? No ! what nun is 
more barred by her grate from the realm of the senses than my 
bride by her solemn affliction ? Is love, then, the union of kin- 
dred, harmonious minds ? No.! my beloved one sits by my side, 
and I guess not her thoughts, and my mind is to her a sealed 
fountain. Yet I love her more — oh ineffably more ! for the doom 
which destroys the two causes philosophy assign,'- to love — in the 
form in the mind ! How can I now, in my vain physiology, say 
what is love — what is not? It is love which must tell me that 
man has a soul, and that in soul will be found the solution of prob- 
lems never to be solved in body or mind alone?" 

My self-questionings halted here, as Lilian's hand touched my 
shoulder. She had riseu from her seat, and come to me. 

" Are not the stars very far from earth ?" she said. 

"Very far." 

"Are they seen for the first time to-night?" 

" They were seen, I presume, as we see them, by the fathers of 
all human races !" 

" Yet close below us they shine reflected in the waters; and yet, 
see, wave flows on wave before we can count it !" 

" Lilian, by what sympathy do you read and answer my 
thought?" 

Her reply was incoherent and meaningless. If a gleam of in- 
telligence had mysteriously lighted my heart to her view, it was 
gone. But drawing her nearer towards me, my eye long followed 
wistfully the path of light dividing the darkness on either hand,' 
till it closed in the sloping horizon. 



A STRANDS STORY. 277 



CHAPTER LXX. 



The voyage is over. Al the seaport at which we landed I 
found a letter from Faber. My ins: rue! inns had reached him in 
time to effect the purchase on which his descriptions had fixed my 
desire. The stock, the implements of husbandry, the furniture of 
the house were included in the purchase. All was prepared for 
my arrival, and 1 hastened from the miserable village, which may 
some day rise into one of the mightiest capitals of the world, to my 
lodge in the wilderness-. 

It was the burst of the Australian spring, which commences in 
our autumn month of October. The air was loaded with the p t 
fume of the acacias. Amidst the glades of the open forest land, 
or climbing the Craggy banks of winding silvery creeks,* creepers 
and flowers of dazzling hue contrasted the olive-green of the sur- 
rounding foliage. The exhilarating effect of the climate in that 
season heightens the charm of the strange scenery. In the bril- 
liancy of the sky, in the lightness of the atmosphere, the sense of 
life is wondrously quickened. With the very breath the Adven- 
turer ,draws in from the racy air, he feels as if inhaling hope. 

We have reached our home — we are settled in it ; the early un 
familiar impressions are worn away. We have learned to dispense 
with much that we at first missed, and are reconciled to much 
that at iirst disappointed Or displeased. 

The house is built but. of logs — the late proprietor had com- 
menced, upon a rising ground, a mile distant, a more imposing 
edifice of stone ! but it is not half finished. 

This log-house is commodious, and much has been done, within 
and without, to conceal or adorn its primitive rudeness. It is of 
irregular, picturesque form, with verandas round three sides of it. 
to which the grape-vine has been trained, with glossy leaves that 
clamber up to the gable roof. There is a large garden in front, in 
which many English fruit-trees have been set, and grow fast among 
the plants of the tropics, and the orange-trees of Southern Europe. 
Beyond, stretch undulous pastures, studded with flocks and herds; 
to the left, soar up. in long range, the many-colored hills; to the 
right meanders a creel;, belted by feathery trees; and on its op- 
posite batik a forest opens, through frequent breaks, into park-like 
g.ades and alleys. The territory of which I so suddenly find my- 
self the lord is vast, even for a colonial capitalist. 

' Creek i* tin pan by Australian colonists to precarioui wtfter- 

eemraea and|trib»ferj itreams. 



278 A STRANGE STORY. 

It had been originally purchased as " a special survey," com-, 
prising twenty thousand acres, with the privilege of pasture over 
forty thousand more. In very little of this land, though it in- 
cludes some of the most fertile districts in the known world, has 
cultivation been even commenced. At the time I entered into 
possession, even sheep were barely profitable ; labor was scarce 
and costly. Regarded as a speculation, I could not wonder that 
my predecessor fled in fear from his domain. Had I invested the 
bulk of my capital in this lordly purchase I should have deemed 
myseif a ruined man ; but a villa near London, with a hundred 
acres, would have cost me as much to buy, and thrice as much to 
keep up. I could afford the invesment I had made. I found a 
Scotch bailiff already on the estate, and I was contented to es- 
cape from rural occupations, to which I brought no experience, 
by making it worth his while to serve me with zeal. Two domes- 
tics of my own, and two who had been for many years with Mrs. 
Ashleigh, had accompanied us; they remained faithful, and seem- 
ed contented. So the clock-work of our mere household arrange- 
ments vein on much the same as in our native homes. Lilian 
was not subjected to the ordinary privations and discomforts that 
await the wife even of the wealthy emigran.. Alas! would she 
have heeded them if she bad been ? 

The change of scene wrought a decided change for the better 
in her health and spirits, but not such as implied a dawn of revi- 
ving reason. But her countenance was now more rarely overcast. 
Its usual aspect was glad with a soft mysterious smile. She 
would murmur snatches of songs, that were partly borrowed from 
English Poets, partly gliding away into what seemed spontaneous 
additions of her own — wanting intelligible meaning, but never 
melody nor rhyme. Strange, that memory and imitation — the two 
earliest parents of all inventive knowledge — should still be so 
active, and judgment — the after faculty, that combines the rest 
into purpose and method — be annulled. 

Julius Faber I see continually, though his residence is a few 
miles distant, He is sanguine as to Lilian's ultimate recovery ; 
and, to my amazement and to my envy, he has contrived, by 
some art which I cannot attain, to establish between her and him- 
self intelligible communion. She comprehends his questions, 
when mine, though the simplest, seem to her in unknown language : 
and he construes into sense her words, that to me are meaningless 
riddles. 

- I was right," he said to me one day, leaving her seated in the 
garden beside her quiet, patient mother, and joining me where i 
lay — listless yet fretful — under the shadeless gum-trees, gazing 
not on the flocks and fields that I could call my own, but on the 
far mountain range, from which the arch of the horizon seemed to 
spring; — "I was right," said the great physician ; "this is reason 
suspended, not reason lost. Your wife will recover ; but " 



A STRANGE STORY. 279 

"But what?" 

" Give me your arm as I walk homeward, and I will tell you the 
conclusion to which 1 have come." 

I rose, the old man leaned on me, and we went down the valley, 
along the craggy ridges of the winding creek. The woodland on 
the opposite hank was vocal with the chirp and croak, and chatter 
of Australian hirds — all mirthful, all songless, save that sweetest 
of warblers, which some early irreverent emigrant degraded to the 
name of magpie, but whose note is sweeter than the Nightingale's, 
and trills through the lucent air with a distinct ecstatic melody of 
joy that dominates all the discords ; — so ravishing the sense that, 
while it sings, the ear scarcely heeds the scream of the parrots. 



CHAPTER LXXJ 

" You may remember," said Julius Faber, " Sir Humphrey 
Davy's eloquent description of the effect produced on him by the 
inhalation of nitrous oxide. He states that he began to lose the 
perception of external things ; trains of vivid visible images ra- 
pidly passed through his mind, and were connected with words in 
such a manner as to produce perceptions perfectly novel. ' 1 ex- 
isted,' he says, ' in a world of newly-connected and newly-modified 
ideas.' When he recovered, he exclaimed : ' Nothing exists but 
thoughts; the universe is composed of impressions, ideas, pleas- 
ures, and pains !' 

" Now observe, that thus, a cultivator of positive science, en- 
dowed with one of the healthiest of human brains, is, by the in- 
halation of a gas, abstracted from all external life — enters into a 
new world, which consists of images he himself creates, and ani- 
mates so vividly — that, on waking, he resolves the universe itself 
into thoughts." 

"Well," said I, " but what inference do you draw from that 
voluntary experiment, applicable to the malady of which you bid 
me hope the cure ?" 

" Simply this : that the effect produced on a healthful brain by the 
nitrous oxide may be produced also by moral causes operating on 
t lie blood, or on the nerves. There is a degree of mental excite- 
menl in which ideas are more vivid than sensations, and then the 
world of external things gives way to the world within the brain* 
But this, though a suspension of that reason which comprehends 



the theory elaborated from this principle, Dr. Ilibbcrt's interest- 
ing (i ml valuable work on the I'hilosophy of Aparitions. 



250 A STRANGE STORY. 

accuracy of judgment, is no more a permanent aberration of rea- 
son than was Sir Humphry Davy's visionary pcstacies under the 
influence of the gas. The difference between the two states of 
suspension is that of time, and it is but an affair of time with our 
beloved patient. Yet prepare yourself/ I fear that the mind will 
not recover without some critical malady of the body." 

" Critical ! but not dangerous 1 — say not- dangerous. I can en- 
dure the pause of her reason ; I could not endure the void in the 
universe if her life were to fade from the earth." 

" Poor friend ! would you not yOurself rather lose life than 
reason ?" 

" I — yes ! But we men are taught to set cheap value on our 
own lives ; we do not estimate at the same rate the lives of those 
we love. Did we do so, Humanity would lose its virtues." 

" What then ! Love teaches that there is something of nobler 
value than mere mind ; yet surely it cannot be the mere body. 
What is it, if not that continuance of being which your philosophy 
declines to acknowledge — namely, soul 1 If you fear so painfully 
that your Lilian should die, is it not that vou fear to lose her for- 
eTver ?" 

" Oh, cease, cease," I cried impatiently. " 1 cannot now argue 
on metaphysics. What is it that you anticipate of harm to her 
life ? Her health has been stronger ever since her affliction. She 
never seems to know ailment now. Do you not perceive that her 
cheek has a more hardy bloom, her frame a more rounded sym- 
metry, than when you saw her in England ?" 

" Unquestionably. Her physical forces have been silently re- 
cruiting themselves in the dreams which half lull, half amuse her 
imagination. Imagination, that faculty,' the most glorious which 
is bestowed on the human mind, because it is the faculty which en- 
ables thought to create, is of all others, the most exhausting to life 
when unduly stimulated, and consciously reasoning on its own 
creations. I think it probable that, had this sorrow not befallen 
you, you would have known a sorrow still graver — you would have 
long survived your Lilian. As it is now, when she recovers, her 
whole organization, physical and mental, will have undergone a 
beneficent change. But I repeat my prediction ; some severe 
malady of the body will precede the restoration of the mind ; and 
it is my hope that the present suspense or aberration of the more 
wearing powers of the mind fit the body to endure and surmount 
the physical crisis. I remember a case, within my own experience, 
in many respects similar to this, but in other respects it was less 
hopeful. I was consulted by a young student of the frailest physi- 
cal conformation, of great mental energies, and consumed by an 
Intense ambition. He was reading for university honors. He 
would not listen to me when I entreated him to rest his mind. 1 
thought that he was certain to obtain the distinction for which he 
toiled, and equally certain to die a few months after obtaining it. 



A STRANGE STORY. 28 1 

He falsified bolli by deductions. He so overworked himself that, 
on the day of examination, his nerves were agitated, his memory 
failed him ; he passed, not without, a certain credit, but fell far 
short of the rank among his feilow-cpmpetJtors ' to which he as- 
pired. Here, then, the irritated mind acted on llie disappointed 
heart, and raised a new train of emotions, lie was first, visited by 
spectral illusions: then he sank into a state in which the external 
world seemed quite blotted out! lie heeded nothing that was said 
to him ; seemed to see nothing that was placed before his eyes ; 
in a word, sensations became dormant, ideas pre d usurped 

' their place, and those ideas gave him pleasure. >ved that 

his genius was recognised* and lived among its supposed creations, 
enjoying an imaginary fame. So it went on for two years. During 
i hat period his frail form became rdbust and vigorous^ At die end 
of that time he was seized with a fever, which would have swept 
him in three days to the grave had it occurred when 1 was iirsi 
called in to attend him. He conquered the fever, and, in recover- 
ing, acquired the full possession of the intellectual faculties so long 

inded. When 1 last saw him, many yeaw afterward, he 
in perfect health, and the object of his young ambition was realized; 
the body had supported the mind — he had achieved distinction. 
Now what had so, for a time, laid this strong intellect into vision- 
ary slc-p ? The inns! agonizing of human emotions in a noble 
spirit — shame ! What has so stricken down your Liliau I 
have told me, the story ; shame ! — the shame of a nature preemi- 
nently pure. But observe, that in his case as in hers, the shock 
indicted does not produce a succession of painful illusions ; but, on 
the contrary, in both, the illusions are generally pleasing, 
the illusions been painful, the body would have suffered — the 
patient died. Why did a painful shock produce pleasing illusions/ 
Because, no matter how a shock on the nerves may originate, if it 
affects the reason, it does but make more vivid than impressions 
from actual external objects the ideas previously most cherished. 
Such ideas in the ypung studdnl were ideas of earthly fame; such 
ideas in the young maiden are ideas of angel comforters and heav- 
enly Edens. Yon miss her mind on the earth, and, while we s] 
it is in paradise." 

" Much that you say, my friend, is authorized b'j the speculations 
of great writers, with whom 1 am not unfamiliar; but in not 
those writers, nor in your encouraging- words, do 1 find a solution 
for much that has no precedents in my i sperience — much, ind< 
that has analogies which I have ever before despised as old wives' 
fables. I have bared to your searching eye the weird mvsieri 
my life. How do you account for facts which you cannot resolve 
into illusions ? for the influence which that strangi 
grave, exercised oxer Lilian's mind or faucy, SO 1 hat, for a lim. 
love for me was as dormant as is her reason now : so that be could 
draw her — bur wboss nature you admit to be singularly pure and 



282 A STRANGE STORY. 

modest — from her mother's home ? The magic wand ! the trance 
into which that wand threw Margrave himself; the apparition 
which it conjured up in my own quiet chamber, when my mind 
was'without a care and my health without a flaw. How account 
for all this — as you endeavored and perhaps successfully, to ac- 
count for all rny impressions of the Visions in the Museum, of the 
luminous haunting Shadow in its earlier apparitions, when my fancy 
was heated, my heart tormented, and, it might be, even the physical 
forces of this strong frame disordered?" 

"Allen," said the old pathologist, " here we approach phenomena 
which lew physicians have dared to examine. Honor to those who, ' 
like our bold contemporary, Elliotson, have braved scoff and sacri- 
ficed dross in seeking to extract what is practical in uses, what can 
be tested by experiment from those exceptional phenomena on 
which magic sought to found a philosophy, and to which philoso- 
phy tracks the origin of magic." 

" What ! Do 1 understand you ? Is it you, Julius Faber, who . 
attach faith to the wonders ascribed to animal magnetism and 
electro-biology, or subscribe to the doctrines which their practition- 
ers tea cji I" 

" I have not examined into those doctrines, nor seen with my 
own eyes the wonders recorded, upon evidence too respectable, 
nevertheless, to permit me peremptorily to deny what I have not 
witnessed.* But wherever I look through the History of Man- 

' What Faber here say* is expressed with more authority by one of the 
most accomplished metaphysicians of our time (.Sir W7 Hamilton): 

mnaoflbulistrj is a phenomenon still iftore astonishing (than dreaming). 
In ihis singular state a person perform rational actions, 

and those frequently of the must difficult and delicate nature; and what is still 

marvelous, with a talent to which he could make no pretensions when 
awake. (Cr. Ancillon, Essais Phftoft. ii. J(il.) His memory and reminiscence 
supply him with recollections of words and things which, perhaps, never 
were at !; in the ordinary state— he speaks more fluently a more 

. And if we are to credit what the evidence on which it 
hardly allows us to disbelieve, he has not only perception of things through 

channels than the common organs of sense, but the sphere of his cogn ; - 
tio'n is amplified to an extent far beyond the limits to which sensible percept 
confined. This subject is one of the most perplexing in the whole com- 
pass of philosophy ; for, on the one hand, the phenomena are so remarkable 

hey cannot be believed, on the other, they are of so unambiguous 

and palpable a character, and the witnesses to their reality are so num 
so intelligent, and so high above every suspicion of deceit, that it is equally 
to deny credit to what is .attested by such ample and unexception- 

ividenee." .sir W. Hamilton's Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic, vol. 

?74. 

18 perplexity, in which the distinguished philosopher leaves the judgment 

80 equally balanced that it finds it impossible to believe, and yet impossible to 

disbelieve, forms the right state of mind in which a candid thinker should come 

examination of those more extraordinary phenomena which he has not 

If yet witnessed, but the fair inquiry into which may be tendered to him 
by persons above the imputation of quackery and fraud. Midler, who is not 
the least determined, as he is certainly one of the most distinguished dis- 

ers of mesmeric, phenomeuu. doea not appear to have witnessed, or at 



A STRANGE STORY. 283 

kind in all ages and all races, I find a concurrence in certain be- 
liefs which seems to countenance the theory that there is in some 
peculiar and rare temperaments a power over forma of animated 
organization, with which they establish some unaccountable affini- 
ty : and even, though much more rarely, a power over inanimate 
matter. Yon are familiar With the theory of Descartes, ' thai those 
particles of the blood which penetrate to the brain do not only 
serve to nourish and sustain its substance, but te produce there a 
oertain very subtle Aura, or rather a flame very vivid and purr 
that obtains the name of the Animal Spirits;'* ami at the close 
of this great fragment upon Man, he asserts that ' this flame is of no . 
other nature than all the tires which are in inanimate both 
This notion does bu< forestall the more-recent doctrine thai electri- 
city is more or less in all, or nearly all, known matter. Now, 
whether, in the electric fluid o other fluid akin to it/of which 

we know si ill less, thus equally pervading all mailer, there may be 
a, certain magnetic property more active, more operative upon sym- 
pathy in some human constitutions than in others, and which can 
nt for the mysterious power I have spoken of, is a query I 
mighl suggest, but not an opinion 1 would hazard. Foran opinion 
1 must have that basis of experience or authority which 1 do no! 
need '. ten I submit a query to the experience and authority of 
others. Still the supposition conveyed in the query is so far worthy 
of notice that tiie ecstatic temperament (in which phras 
prebend alfconstitutional mystics) is peculiarly sensitive to electric 
atmospheric influences. This is a fact which most medical obser- 
vers will have remarked, in the range of their practice. Accord- 
ingly 1 was prepared to find Mr. Hare Townshend, in his interest- 
ing \vork,t state thai he himself was of c the temperament^' 
sparks flying from his hair when combed in the dark, etc. Thai 
accomplished writer, whose veracity no one would impugn, affirms 
that « between this electrical endowment and whatever mesmeric 
properties he might possess; there is a remarkable relationship ami 

least to have carefully examined them, or be would, perhaps u kbaj 

Mil' more extraordinary of those phenomena confirm, rather' than con- 
tradict, his own l ■ rics. and may be i y tin' syinpathi 

mother — "tte haw- of reflection through the medium of the 
brain."' (Physiology of Senses, p. 1311.) And again by the maxim ' 
the mental principle, or cause of the menial phenomena, cannot be coi 
to the brain, bull that n exists in a tte iu every pari o iism." 

(lb. p. 1355.) The "nerve power," contended for by 'Mr, Bain, also, may 
suggest a rational solution of much that has Beemed incredible to those physi- 
ologiststyho have nut condescended to sift the genuine phenomena of mi 
ism from the iutptature to which, in all ages, the phenomena exhibited by 
what may be nailed ii- rameut, have been applied. 



* Di ('Homme, vol i's Edition. 

t Ibid. p. 

' Facts on Mesmerism. 



284 A STRANGE STORY. 

parallelism. Whatever state of the atmosphere tends to accumu- 
late and insulate electricity in the body, promotes equally (says 
Mr. Townshend) the power and facility with which I influence 
olhe. s uk s nerically. What Mr. Townshend thus observes in him- 
self, American, physicians and professors of chemistry depose to 
have observed in those modern magicians, the mediums of (so 
called) ' spirit manifestation.' They state that all such mediums 
are of the electric temperament, thus every where found allied with 
the ecstatic, and their power varies in proportion as the state of the 
atmosphere serves to depress or augment the electricity stored -in 
themselves. Here, then, in the midst of vagrant phenomena, 
either too hastily dismissed as altogether the tricks of fraudful im- 
posture, or too credulously accepted as supernatural portents — here, 
at least, in one generalized fact, we may, perhaps, find a starting- 
point, from which inductive experiment may arrive soon, or late, at 
a rational theory. But, however the power of which we are speak- 
ing (a power accorded to special physical temperament) may or 
may not be accounted for by some patient student of nature, I am 
persuaded that it is in that power we are to seek for whatever is 
not wholly imposture in the attributes assigned to magic or witch- 
craft. It is well said by a writer who has gone into the depth of 
these subjects, with the research of a scholar and the science of a 
pathologist, ' that if magic had exclusively reposed on credulity 
and falsehood, its reign would never have endured so long. But 
Thai its art took its origin in singular phenomena, proper to certain 
affections of the nerves, or manifested in the conditions of sleep. 
These phenomena, the principle of which was at first unknown, 
served to root faith in magic, and often abused even enlightened 
minds. The enchanters and magicians arrived, by divers practices, 
at the faculty of provoking in other brains a determined order of 
dreams, of engendering hallucinations of all kinds, of inducing fits 
of hypnotism, trance, mania, during which the persons so affected 
imagined that they saw, heard, touched supernatural beings, con- 
d with them, proved their influences, assisted at prodigies of 
which magic proclaimed itself to possess the secret. The public, 
the enchanters, and the enchanted, were equally dupes.' * Accept- 
ing this explanation, unintelligible to no physician of a practice so 
lengthened as mine has been, I draw from it the corollary that as 
these phenomenon are exhibited only by certain special affections, 
to which only certain special constitutions are susceptible, so not 
in any superior faculties of intellect, or of spiritual endowment, 
but in peculiar physical temperaments, often strangely disordered, 
the power of the sorcerer in affecting the imagination of others, 
is to be sought. In the native tribes of Australasia the elders 
are instructed in the arts of this so-called sorcery, but only in a 

* La Magie et FAstrologie daug l'Antiquite et an Moyen-Age. Par L. F. 
Alfred Maury, Membre Je lln*titut. P. 



A STRANGE STORY. 286 

very few consti'utions do 'S in tructicn avail to 'produce effects in 
w, ic'n the savajges recognise the \ owcis of a sorcerrr; it issowi h 
the Obi of the negioes. The fascination of Obi is an unquestion- 
able fact, but tli - Obi maa "anno: be trained by formal e > 

born a fascinator, as a pod is born a j oet. It is so with the 
La landers, of whom Tornseus reports that of those instructed in 
the magical art ' only a few are ea] able of it.' ' Some,' lie says, 
'sue naturally magicians.' And this fact is emphatically insisted 
upon by the mystics of our own middle ages, who state t at a man 
miis! be born a magician, in other words, thai the gift is constitu- 
tional, though dev loped by practice and art. Now, that this gift 
and its practices a ould principally obtain in imperfect states of 
civilization, and fade into insignificanc-! in the busy social en- 
lightenment v\' cities, may he accounted for by reference to the 

m influences oi imagination. In the cruder slates of social 
life not only is imagination more frequently predominant ov r all 
Other faculties hut it has not the healthful vents which the intel- 
lectual competition of cities and civilization affords. The man 
who in a savage tribe, or in'lhe dark feudal ages, would he a 
magician, is in our century a poet, an orator, a daring speculator, 
an Inventive philosopher. In other words, his imagination] is 
drawn to pursuits congenial to those amongst whom it works. It. 
is the tendency of all intellect to follow the direction of the public 
opinion amidst which it is train d. Where a magician is held in 
reverence or awe, there will be more practitioners of magic than 
where a magician is despised as an impostor or shut up as lunatic. 
In Scandf..avia, before the introduction of Christianity, all tradi- 
tion records the wonderful powers of the Yala, or witch, who was 
then held in reverence and honor. Christisnfty was introduced, 
and the early Church denounced the Vala as the instrument of 

,i, and from that moment down dropped thc^naestic pro- 
phetess into a miserable and execrated old hag ! " 

"The ideas you broach," said I, musingly, " have at moments 
crossed me, though I have shrunk from reducing them to a tin 
which is but our of pure hypothesis. Bui this magic, after all, 
then, yon would place in the imagination of the operator, acting 
on the imagination of those whom ii affects. Here, at lea 
can 1'oliow you. to a certain extent, for here we get back into tbi' 

imate realm of physiology." 
" And possibly." said Falier, " we may find bints to guide us 
to useful examination, if not to complete solution, of problems 
that, once demonstrated, may lead to discoveries of infinite vulue — 
hints, I say, in two writers of widely opposite genius — Van llel- 
mont and Bacon. Van Helmont, of all the mediaeval mystics, is, 
in spile of his many extravagant whims, the one whose intellect is 
the most suggestive to the disciplined reasoners of our day\ He 
supposed thai the faculty which he calls Phanlasy, and which we 
familiarly aall lwaghaatiou, k LnvwsUsd with the power of creating 



286 A STRANGE STORY. 

for itself ideas independent of the senses, each idea clothed in a 
form fabricated by the imagination, and becoming an operative 

fcy. This notion is so far favored by modern physiologists, 
that Lincke reports a case where the eye itself was extirpated ; 
yet the extirpation was followed by the appearance of luminous 
figures before the orbit. And again, a woman, stone blind, com- 
plained ' df luminous images, with pale colors before her eyes.' — 
Abercronrbie mentions the case 'of a lady quite blind, her eyes 
being also disorganized and sunk, who never walked out without 
seeing a little old woman in a red cloak who seemed to walk be- 
fore her.'* Your favorite authority, the illustrious Midler, who 
was himself in the habit of ' seeing different images in the field 
of vision when he lay quietly down to sleep,' asserts that these 

jes are not merely presented to the fancy, but that even 'the 
images u'i dreams are really seen,' and that 'any one mav satisfy 
himself of this by accustoming himself regularly to open his eyes 
when waking after a dream, the images seen in the dream are then 
sometimes visible, and can be observed to disappear gradually.' 
He confirms this statement, not only by the result of his own ex- 
perience, but by the observations made by Spinoza, and the yet 

er authority of Aristotle, who accounts for spectral appear- 
ance as the internal action nfthesenseqf'vision.\ And this opin- 
favqred by Sir David Brewster, whose experience leads him 
to suggest 'that the objects of mental contemplation may be seen 
as distinctly as external objects, and will occupy the same local 
position in the axis of vision as if they had been formed by the 
agency of light.' Be this as if may, one fact remains, that ima- 
ges can be seen even by the blind as distinctly and as vividly as you 
and I now see the stream below our feet and the opossums at play 
upon yonder boughs. Let us come next to some remarkable sug- 
gestions of fcord Bacon. In his Natural History, treating of the 
Idrce of the imagination, and the help it receives ' by one man 
working by another,' he cites an instance he had witnessed of a 
kind of juggler, who could tell a person what card he thought of. 
He mentioned this 'to a pretended learned man. curious in such 
things.' and this sage said to him, ' It is not the knowledge of the 
man's thought, for that is proper to God, but the" enforcing of a 
thought upon him, and binding bis imagination by a stronger, so 
that he could think of no other card.' You see this sage antici- 
pated our modern electro-biologists ! And the learned man then 
shrewdly asked Lord Bacon, 'Did the juggler tell the card 
to the man himself who had thought, of it, or bid another tell 

*• She had no illusions when within doors. — Abercrombie on the Intellectual 
Powers, p. '277. (loth edition. ) 

t Muller, Physiology of the Senses, Barley's translation, pp. 1C68-1395, and 

elsewhere. Mr. Bam' in his thoughtful and suggestive woik on the Senses 

and Intellect, makes very powerful use of these statements in support of his 

ition, which Faber advances in other words, namely, " the return of 

h nei veu8 currents exaotly oa their old track in revived sensati&n." 



A STRAXGK STORY. 287 

it 1' ' He bade another tell it,' answered Lord Bacon. ' I thought, 
so,' returned his learned acquaintance, 'for the juggler himself 
could not have put on so strong an imagination j but by telling 
the card to the other, who believed the juggler was some strange 
man who could do strange things — that other man caught a strong 
imagination.'* The whole story is worth reading, because Lord 
Bacon evidently thinks it conveys a guess worth examining; And 
Lord Bacon, were he now living, would be the man to solve the 
mysteries that branch out of mesmerism or (so called) spiritual 
manifestation, for he would not pretend to despise their phenom- 
ena for fear of hurting his reputation (ov good sense. Bacon then 

on to state that, there are three ways to fortify the imagina- 
tion. ' First, authority derived from belief in an art and in the 
man who exercises it ; secondly, means to quicken and corrobo- 
rate the imagination ; thirdly, means to repeat and refresh it,' — 
For the second and the third he refers to the practice of ma 
and proceeds afterwards to state on what, things imagination 
uiosi force ; ' upon things thai has the slightest and easiest, mo- 
tions, and, therefore, above all. upon the spirils of men, and, in 

. on such affection? as move hglnest — in love, in fear, in irres- 
olution. And,' adds Bacon, earnestly, in a very different spirit 
from that which dictates to the sages of our time, the philosophy 

Veting without trial that which belongs to the Marvelous, 
'and whatsoever is of this kind should be, thoroughly inquired 
into' And this greal founder or renovator of the sober inductive, 
system of investigation even so far leaves it a matter of specula- 
tive inquiry whether imagination may not be so powerfirl that i; 
can actually operate upon a plant, that- he says, 'This likewise 
should be made upon plants, and that diligently, as if you should 
tell a man that' such a tree would die this year, and icUl him, at 
these and these times, to go unto it, and see how it thriveth.' 1 
presume thai no philosopher has followed such recommendations ; 
had some great philosopher done so, possibly we should, by this 
time know all the secrets of what is popularly called witchcraft." 

And as Faber here paused there came a strange laugh from the 
fantastic she oak-tree overhanging the stream — a wild, impish 
laugh. 

■■ i : ooh ! it is but the great, kingfisher, the. laughing bird of the 
Australian bush," said Julius Faber, amused at my start of su- 
nn. 

irhapa it is for the reason suggested in the text, namely, that the magi- 
requires the interposition of a third imagination between his own and 
consulting believer, that any learned adept in (so called J magic will 
inv:u . ■ in exhibit without the presence of a third person. Henoe 

the author o tute Magie, printed at Paris. 1852 

a i> ok I. is remarkable for ii* learning than for the earnest, belief of a scholar 
of our own day in the reality of the art of which he records the history — in- 
sists much on the necessity of rigidly observing Le Tenia ire. iu the uumlidr 
uf pevaeus who assist in an enchanter's experiment. 



288 A STRANGE STORY. 

We walked on for some minutes in musing silence,, and the rude 
log but in which my wise companion had his home came in view ; 
flocks grazing on undulous pastures, the kine drinking at a 
watercourse fringed by the slender gum-trees ; and a few fields, 
laboriously won from the luxuriant grass-land, rippling with the 
wave of corn. 

I halted, and said, "Rest here for a few moments, till I gather 
up the conclusions to which your speculative reasoning seems to 
invite me." 

We sat down on a rocky crag* half mantled by luxuriant creep- 
ers with vermilion buds. 

" From the guesses," said I, " which you have drawn from the 
erudition of others and your own ingenious and reflective induc- 
tions, i collect this solution of the mysteries, by which the expe- 
rience I gain from my senses confounds all the dogmas approved 
by my judgment. To the rational conjectures by which, when 
we first conversed on the marvels that perplexed me, you ascribed 
to my imagination, predisposed by mental excitement, physical 
. fatigue, or derangement, and a concurrence of singular events 
lending to strengthen such predisposition — the phantasmal^ im- 
pressions produced on my senses ; to these conjectures you now 
add a new one, more startling and less admitted by sober physi- 
ologists. You conceive it possible that persons endowed with a 
rare, and peculiar temperament can so operate on the imagination, 
through the imagination, on the senses of others, as to exceed 
even the powers ascribed to the practitioners of mesmerism and 
electro-biology, and give a certain foundation of truth to the old 
tales of magic and witchcraft. You imply that Margrave may be 
a person thus gifted, and hence the influence he unquestionably ex- 
ercised over Lilian, and over, perhaps, less innocent agents, charm- 
ed or 'impelled by his will. And not 'discarding, as I own I should 
have been originally induced to do, the queries, or suggestions ad- 
ventured by Bacon in his discursive speculations on Nature, tp-wit; 
' that there be many things, some of them inanimate, that operate 
: the spirits of men by secret sympathy and antipathy,' and 
to which Bacon gave the quaint name uf ' imaginants ;' so even 
that wand, of which I have described to you the magic-like effects, 
may have had properties communicated to it by which it performs 
the work of the magician, as mesmerists pretend that some Sub- 
stance mesmerized by them can act on the patient as sensibly as if 
ir were the mesinerizer himself. Do I state your suppositions cor- 
rectly r 

"Yes; always remembering that they are only suppositions, 
and volunteered with the utmost diffidence. But since, thus 
seated in theWrly wilderness, we permit ourselves the indulgence 
of child-like guess, may it not be possible, apart from the doubt- 
ful question whether a man can communicate to an inanimate ma- 
terial substance a power to act upon the mind or imagination of 



A S'UAN'GE STUKY. 289 

another man — may it not, [ say, be possible that, such a su 
may contain in itself such a Virtue or properiy potenl over 
certain constitutions, though not over all. For instance, it is 
in my experience that the common hazel-wood will strongly . 
some nervous temperaments, though without effect on others. — 
I remember a young girl who, having taken up a hazel stick 
freshly cut, could not relax her hold of it; and when it was wrench- 
ed away from 'her by force was irresistibly attracted towards it, 
repossessed herself of it, and, after holding it a few minutes, was 

into a hind of trance in which she beheld phantasmal visions. 
Mentioning this curious case, which 1 supposed unique, to a learn- 
"ed brother of our profession, he told me that he had known other 
instances o ct of the hazel upon nervous temperaments in pef- 

sous of both sexes. Possibly it was some such peculiar'pro] 

■ hazel thai made it the wood selected for the old divining 
rod. Again, we know that the bay-tree or laurel was dedicated to 
the oracular Pythian Apollo. Now wherever, in the old world, we 
find that the learning of the priests enabled them to exhibit excep- 
tional phenomena which imposed upon popular credulity, then 
a something- or other which it is worth a philosopher's while h 
plore. And, accordingly, i always suspected that there was 
in the laurel some property favorable to ecstatic vision in hi 
impressionable temperaments. My Suspicion, a few years ago. was 
justified by thy experience of a German physician who had under 
his care a cataleptic or ecstatic patient, and who assured me that 

lund nothing in this patient so stimulated the state of • sleep- 
waiting,' or so disposed that state to indulge in the hallucinations 
of prevision, as the berry of the laurel* Well, we do not know 
! thai produced a seemingly magical elicit upon you 
posed of. Von did not notice the metal empli 
in the wire whi i inmunicated a thrill to -hive 

nerves in the palm of the hand. You cannot, tell how far it, might 
have been the vehicle of some fluid force in nature. Or still more 
probablyrwhether the pores of your hand insensibly imbibed, and 
communicated to the brain, some of those powerful narcotics from 
which the Boudhists and the Arabs make unguents thai induce 
visionary hallucinations, and in which substances undetected in 
the hollow of the wand, or the handle of the wand itself, might be 
steeped. f One thing we do know, namely, that, amongsi the an- 
cients, and especially in the East, the construction of wands for 
magical purposes was no common-place mechanical craft, but a 
special and secret art appropriated to men who cultivated wi 



* I mar add that Dr.Kerner instances the effect of laurel-b«i 
Beeressof Pravorst, o'.irrcspouding with that asserted by Julius Faber i;i the 

. t See for these oaguenta the work of M. Maury before quoted, L:i MaRie 
et l'Astrologk', &C, p. 417. 
to 



29Q\ A STRANGE STORY. 

siduity all that was then known of natural science in order to ex- 
tract from it agencies t^bat might appear supernatural. Possibly, 
then, the rods or wands of the East, and of which Scripture makes 
mention, were framed upon some principles of which we in our day 
are very naturally ignorant, since we do not ransack science for 
the same secrets. And thus in the selection or preparation of the 
material employed, mainly consisted, whatever may be referable 
to natural philosophical causes, in the antique science of Rhabdo- 
mancy, or divination and enchantment by wands. The staff or 
wand of which you tell me, was, you say, made of iron or steel 
and tipped with crystal. Possibly iron and crystal do really con- 
tain some properties not hitherto scientifically analyzed, and only, 
indeed, potential over exceptional temperaments, which may ac- 
count for the fact that iron and crystal have been favorites with 
all professed mystics, ancient and modern. The Delphic Python- 
ess had her iron tripod, Mesmer, his iron bed; and many persons, 
indisputably honest, cannot gaze long upon a ball of crystal but 
what they begin to see visions. I suspect that a philosophical 
cause for such seemingly preternatural effects of crystal and iron 
will be found in connection with the extreme impressionability to 
changes in temperature which is the characteristic both of crystal 
and iron. But if these materials do contain certain powers over 
exceptional constitutions, we do not arrive at a supernatural, but 
at a natural phenomenon." 

" Still," said I, " even granting that your explanatory hypothe- 
sis hit or approach the truth — still what a terrible power you 
would, assign to man's will overmen's resignation." 

" Man's will," answered Faber, " has over men's deeds and 
reason, habitual and daily, power infinitely greater, and, when 
uncounterbalanced, infinitely more dangerous than that which 
superstition exaggerates in magic. Man's will moves a war that 
decimates a race ; and leaves behind it calamities little less dire 
than slaughter. Man's will frames, but it also corrupts laws; 
exalts, but also demoralizes opinion ; sets the world mad with 
V fanaticism, as often as it curbs the heart's fierce instincts by the 
wisdom of brolherlike mercy. You revolt at the exceptional, limit- 
ed sway over some two or three individuals, which the arts of a 
. sorcerer (if sorcerer there be) can effect ; and yet, at the very, mo- 
ment. in which you were perplexed and appalled by such sway, or 
by your reluctant belief in it, your will was devising an engine to 
unsettle the reason and wither the hopes of millions !" 

" My will ! What engine ?" 

" A book conceived by your intellect, adorned by your learning, 
and directed by your will to steal from the minds of other men 
their persuasion of the soul's everlasting Hereafter." 

I bowed my head, and felt myself grow pale. 

" And if we accept Bacon's theory of ' secret sympathy,' or the 
plainer physiological maxiua that there muat be in the imagination 



A 8TKAi\OB STOKY. 291 

morbidly impressed by the will of another, some trains of idea in 
affinity with such influence and pre-inclined to receive it. no ma- 
gician could war]) you to evil, except through thoughts that them- 
selves went astray. Grant that the Margrave, who stijl haunts 
your mind, did really, by some occult, sinister magnetism, guide 
the madman to murder — did influence the servant woman's vulgar 
desire to pryintothe secrets of her ill-fated master — or the old 
maid's covetous wish and envious malignity — what could this awful 
magician do more than any commonplace guilty adviser, to a mind 
predisposed to accept the advice .'"* 

" You forget one example which destroys your argument — the 
spell which this mysterious fascinator could cast upon a creature 
so pure from all guilt as Lilian !" 

" Will you forgive me if I answer frankly .'" 

" Speak." 

" Your Lilian is spotless and pure, as you deem her. and the 
fascination, therefore, attempts no lure through a sinful desire : it 
blends with its attraction no sentiment of affection untrue to your- 
self, s justice to your Lilian, and may be a melancholy 
comfort to .Mm. to state my conviction, based on the answers my 
questions have drawn from her, that you were never more 
cherished by her love than when that love seemed to forsake 
you. Her imagination impressed her with the illusion that 
through your love lor her yon were threatened with, a great peril. 
What seemed the levi y of her desertion was the devotion of self- 
sacrifioe. And, in her strange, dream-led wanderings, do not think 
that she was conscious of the fascination you impute to this mys- 
terious Margrave ; in her belief, it was your own guardian angel 
that guided her Steps, and her pilgrimage was ordained to disarm 
the foe that menaced you, and dissolve the spell that, divided her 
life from yours ! Lot. had she not long before this wilfully prepared 
herself to be so deceived ? Had not her fancies been deliberately 
encouraged to dwell remote from the duties we are placed on the 
earth to perform ? The loftiest faculties in our nature are tHose 
that demand the finest poise, not to fall from their height, and crush 
all the walls that they crown. With exquisite beauty of illustra- 
tion, Hume says of the dreamers of 'bright fancies,' 'that they 
may be compared to those angels whom the Scriptures represent as 
covering their eyes with their wings.' Had you been, like, my 
nephew, a wrestler for bread with the wilderness, what helpmate 
would your Lilian have been to you .' How often would you have 
cried out in justifiable anger, ' 1, son of Adam, am on earth, not 
in paradise. Oh, that my Lve were at home on my hearth, and 
not in the skies with the seraphs!' No Margrave, I venture to 
say. could have suspended the healthful affections, or charmed into 
danger the wlde-awke soul, of my Amy. When she rocks in its 
cradle tiie babe, the young parents entrusts to her heed — when she 
calls the Line to the milking, the chicks to their eoru — when she 



'i^i - A STKAKi-K ITOBIY. 

but flits through my room to renew the flowers on the stand, or . 
range in neat order the books that I read— no spell on her fancy 
could lead her a step from the range of her provident cares! At 
day, she is contented to be on the common-place earth ; at even- 
ing, she and I knock together at lite one door of heaven, which 
opes to thanksgiving and prayer, and thanksgiving and prayer 
send us back, calm and hopeful, to the tasks that each morrow 
renews." 

I looked up as the old man paused, and in the limpid clearnei s 
of the Australian atmosphere, 1 saw the child he thus praised, 
standing by the garden-gate, looking towards us, and, though 
still distant, she seemed near. I felt wroth with her. My 
heart so cherished my harmless, defenceless Lilian, that I was 
jealous of the praise taken from her to be bestowed on an- 
other. 

"Each of us,'' said 1, coldly. •' has his or her own nature, 
and the uses harmonious to that nature's idiosyncrasy. The 
World, 1 grant, would get on very ill. if women were not, more 
or less, actively useful and quietly good, like your Amy. But 
the world would lose standards that exalt and refine, if no 
women were permitted to gain, through the influence of fancy, 
thoughts exquisite as those which my Lilian conceived, v 
thought, alas, flowed out of fancy. I do not wound you by citing 
your Amy as a type of the mediocre. I do not claim for Lilian 
■e accord to the type of genius. But both are alike 
io such types in this: namely, that the uses of mediocrity are 
for every-day life, and he uses of genius, amidst a thousand mis- 
takes which mediocrity never commits, are to suggest aud' per- 
petuate ideas which raise the standard of the mediocre to a nobler 
level. There Would be' fewer Amyt in life, if there were no Lilian! 
as there would be far fewer good men of sense, if there were no 
erring of genius ! " 

" You say well, Allen Fenwick. And who should -be so indul- 
gent to the vagaries of the imagination as the philosophers who 
taught your youth to doubt every thing in the Maker's plan of 
creation which Could not be mathematically proved. 'The human 
mind,' said Luther, ' is like a drunkard on horseback; prop it on 
one side, and it falls 1 on the other.' So the man who is much too 
enlightened to believe in a peasant's religion, is always sure to set 
up some insane superstition of his own. Open biographical vol- 
umes wherever you please, and the man who has no faith in reli- 
gion, is a man who has a faith in a nightmare. See that type of 
the el gan sceptics — Lord Herbert, of Cherbury. He is writing 
a book against Eevelation — he asks a sign from heaven to tell him 
if his book is approved by his Maker, and the man who cannot be- 
lieve in the miracles performed by his Saviour, gravely tells us of 
a miracle vouchsafed to himself. Take the hardest and strongest 
intelleot which vha hardest and strongest racy of mankind ever 



A STRANGE' STORY. 293 

schooled and accomplished. Sec fVe greatest of great men, the 
great vJulius CffisarJ Publicly h£ asserts in the Senate, that the 
immortality of the soul is a vain chimera, lie professes the creed 
which Roman voluptuaries deduced fro a Epicurus, and denies all 
Divine interference in the affairs of the earth. A great authority 
for the materialists — they have none greater! They can show on 
their side no intellect equal to Caesar's ! and yet this magnificent 
free-thinker, rejecting a soul and a Deity, habitually, on entering 
his chariot, muttered a charm ; crawled on his knees up the steps 
of a temple to propitiate the abstraction called 'Nemesis;* and 
did not cross the Rubioon till he had consulted the omens. What 
does all this prove .'—a very simple truth. Man has some instincts 
with the .brutes; for instance, hunger and sexual love. Man has 
one instinct peculiar to himself, found universally (or with alleged 
exceptions in savage states so rare, that they do not affect the gen- 
eral law)* — an instinct of an invisible power without this earth, 
and of a life beyond the grave, which that power vouchsafes to his 
spirit. But the best of us cannot violate an instinct with im- 
punity. Resist hunger as long as you can, and, rather than die 
of starvation, your instinct will make you a cannibal; resist love 
when youth and nature impel to it. and what pathologist does not 
track- one broad path into madness or crime I So with the noblest 
instinct, of all. Reject the internal conviction by which the grand- 
est, thinkers have sanctioned the hope of the humbles; Christian, 
and you are servile at once to some faith inconceivably more hard 
to believe. The imagination will not be withheld from its yearn- 
ing for vistas beyond the walls of the. flesh and the span of the 
present hour. Philosophy itself, in rejecting the healthful creeds 
by which man finds his safeguards in sober prayer", and Ins guide 
through the wilderness of visionary doubt,, invents systems com- 
pared to which the mysteries of theologj are simple. Suppose 
any man of strong, plain understanding had never heard of a 
Deity like Dim whom we Christians adore, then ask this man 
Whom he can the belter comprehend in his mind, and accept as a 
natural faith, namely, the simple Christianity of your shepherd or 
the Pantheism of Spinoza-? Place before an accomplished critic 
(who comes with a perfectly unprejudiced mind, to either inquiry), 

* It seems extremely doubtful whether the very tew instances in which it 

has been asserted that a Bavage race has been found without recognition (if a, 

Deity and a future state would bear searching examination. It is set forth, 

ample, in most of the popular works on Australia, that the Australian 

es have no potion of a Deity or a Herafter, that they only worship a 

orevil spirit. This assumption, though made .more peremptorily, and 

reater number of writers than any similar one regarding other ss 

ether erroneous,, and has no other foundation than the ignorance of the 

writers. The Australian savages recognize a Deity, hut lie is too august for 

a name in their own language ; in English they call Him the Great Master — 

pression synonymous with "The (treat Lord." They believe in a here- 

!' external joy, and place it amongst the stars. — See Strzelechi's Phy- 

ical Description of New South Wales , 



394 A STRANGE STORY. 



first, the arguments of David/Hume against the Gospel miracles, 
and then the metaphysical crotchets of David Hume himself. This 
subtle philosopher, not content, with B rkeley, to get rid of matter 
— not content, with Condillac, to get rid of spirit or mind — pro- 
ceeds to a miracle greater than any his Maker has yet vouchsafed 
to reveal. He, being then alive, and in the act of writing, gets 
rid of himself altogether. Nay, he confesses he cannot reason 
with any one who is stupid enough to think e has a self. His 
words are : ' What we call a mind is nothing but a heap or collec- 
tion of different perceptions or objects united together by certain 
relations, and supposed, though falsely, to be endowed with per- 
fect simplicity and identity. If any one upon serious and candid 
reflection thinks he has a different notion of himself, I must con- 
fess I can reason with him no longer.' Certainly I would rather 
believe all the ghost stories upon record, than believe that 1 am not. 
even ;i ghost/ distinct and apart from the perceptions conveyed to 
me, no matter how — ■just as 1 am distinct and apart from the furni- 
ture in my room, no matter whether I found it there or whether I 
bought it. If some old cosmogonist asked you to believe that 
the primitive cause of the solar system was not to oe traced to a 
Divine Intelligence, but to a nebulosity, originally so diffuse that 
its existence can with difficulty he conceived, and that the origin 
of the present system of organized beings equally dispensed 
with the agency of a Creative Mind, and could be referred to 
molecules formed in the water by the power of attraction, till, by 
modifications of cellular tissue in the gradual lapse of ages, one 
monad became an oyster and another a Man — would you nut say 
this cosmogony could scarcely have misled the human understand- 
ing even in the earliest dawn of speculative inquiry? Yet such 
are the hypothesises to which the desire to philosophize away that 
le proposition of a Divine First Cause, which every child can 
comprehend, led two of the greatest geniuses and profoundest 
reasoners of modern times, La Place and La Marck* Certainly, 
the more you examine those arch phantasmagorists, the philoso- 
phers, who would leave nothing in the universe but their own de- 
licious, the more your intellectual pride may be humbled. The 
wildest phenomena which have startled you, are not more extrava- 
gant than the grave explanations which intellectual presumption 
adventures on the elements of our own organism and the relations 
between the world of matter and the world of ideas." 

Here our conversation stopped, for Amy had now joined us, and, 
looking up to reply, 1 saw the child's innocent face between me 
and the farrowed brow of the old man. 

* See tbe observations of La Place and La Marck in the introduction to 
Kirlne Bridgwater Treatise. 



A »TRA\«B STORY. 29* 



CHAPTER LXXI1. 

I turned back alone. The sun was reddening the summits of 
the distant mountain range, but dark clouds, that portended rain, 
were gathering behind my way and deepening the shadows in many 
a Chasm and hollow which volcanic (ires had wrought on the sur- 
face of uplands undulating like dilnvian billows fixed into stone in 
the midst of their stormy swell. I wandered on, and away from 
the beaten track, absorbed in thought. Could I acknowledge in 
Julius Faber's conjectures any bases for logical ratiocination? or 
were they not the ingenious fancies of that empirical Philosophy of 
Sentiment by which the aged. In the decline of severeror faculties, 
sometimes assimilate their theories to the hazy romance of youth 1 
I can well conceive that the story I tell will be regarded by most 
as a Wild and fantastic fable; thai by some it may be considered a 
vehicle for guesses at various riddles of Nature, without or within 
us. which are free to the license of romance, though forbidden to the 
caution of science. But I — I — know unmistakably my own identi- 
ty, my own positive place in a substantial universe. And beyond 
that knowledge what do I Know. Yet had Faber no ground for 
Ids startling parallels between the chimeras of superstition and the • 
alternatives to faith volunteered by the metaphysical speculations 
of knowledge. On the theorems of Condillac, I, in common with 
numberless contemporaneous students (for, in my youth, Condillac 
held sway in the schools, as now, driven forth from the schools, his 
opinions float loose through the talk and the scribble of men of the 
world, who perhaps never opened his page) — on the theorems of 
OondillaC I had built up a system of thought 'designed to immure 
the swathed form of material philosophy from all rays and all 
sounds of a world not material, as the walls of some blind mauso- 
leum shut out from the mummy within, the whisper of winds, and 
the gleaming of stars. 

And did not those very theorems, when carried out to their strict 
and completing results by the (dose reasonings of Hume, resolve 
my own living identity, the one conscious indivisible me, into a 
bundle of memories derived from the senses, which had bubbled 
and duped my experience, and reduce into a phantom, as spectral 
as that of the Luminous Shadow, the whole solid frame of creation ( 

While pondering these questions, the storm, whose ton-warnings 
I had neglected 1o heed, burst forth with ail the suddenness pecu- 
liar to the Australian climes. The rains descended like the rush- 
ing of Hoods. In the beds of watercourses, which, at noon, seemed 
dried up and exhausted, the torreuU bejjan to swell and to rave ; the 



296 A STRANGE STORY. 

gray crags around them were animated into living waterfalls. I 
looked round, and the landscape was as changed as a scene that re- 
places a scene on a player's stage. I was aware that I had wan- 
dered far from my home, and 1 knew not what direction I should ■ 
take to reg-ain it. Close at hand, and raised above the torrents 
that now rushed in many a gully and tributary creek around and 
before me, the mouth of a deep cave, overgrown with bushes and 
creeping flowers tossed wildly to and ' fro between the rain from 
above and the spray of cascades below,' offered a shelter from the 
storm. I entered ; scaring innumerable flocks of bats, striking 
against me, blinded by the glare of the lightning that followed me 
into the cavern ; and hastening to resettle themselves on the pen- 
dants of stalactites, or the jagged buttresses of primeval wall. 

From time to time the lightning darted into the gloom and 
lingered among its shadows, and I saw, by the flash, that the floors 
on which 1 stood were strewed with strange bones, some among 
them the fossilized relics of races destroyed by the deluge. The 
rain continued for more than two hours with unabated violence; 
then it ceased almost as suddenly as it had come on. And the 
lustrous moon of Australia burst from the clouds, shining, bright 
as an English dawn into the hollows of the cave. And then sim- 
ultaneously arose, all the choral songs of the wilderness — creatures 
whose voices are heard at night, the loud whirr of the locusts, the 
musical boom of the bull-frog, the cuckoo note of the morepork, 

mournful amid all those merrier sounds, the hoot of the owl, 
through the wizard she oaks and the pale green of the gum-trees. 

lepped forth into the open air and gazed, first instinctively on ' 
the heavens, next, with more heedful eye,. upon the earth. The 
nature of the soil bore the evidence of volcanic fires long since ex- 
tinguished. Just before my feet the rays fell upon a bright yellow 
streak in the midst of a block of quartz, half embedded in the soft, 
most soil. In the midst of all the solemn thoughts and the intense 
sorrows which weighed upon heart and mind, that yellow gleam 
startled the mind in a direction remote from philosophy, quickened 
the heart to a beat that chimed with no household affections. — 
Involuntarily I stooped ; impulsively I struck the block with the 
hatchet, or tomahawk, I carried habitually about me, for the pur- 
pose of marking the trees that I wished to clear from the waste of 
my broad domain. The quartz was shattered by the stroke, and 
left disburied its glittering treasure. My first, glance had not de- 
ceived me. I, vain seeker after knowledge, had, at least, discover- 
ed gold. , I took up the bright metal ; — gold ! I paused ; I looked 
round ; the land that just before had seemed to me so worthless, 
took the value of Ophir. Its features had before been as unknown 
as the Mountains of the Moon, and now my memory became 
wonderfully quickened. I' recalled the rough map of my pos- 
sessions, the first careless ride round their boundaries. Yes, the 
land on which I stood — for miles, to the spur of those further 



A STRANGE STORY. 297 

mountains — the land was mine, and. beneath its surface, there was 
gold ! I closed ray eyes; for some moments, visions of boundless 
wealth) and of the royal power which such wealth could command, 
swept athwart my brain. But my heart rapidly settled back to its 
real treasure. " What matters." 1 sighed, "all this dross I Could 
Ophir itself buy hack to my Lilian's smile one ray of the light 
which gave ' dory (jp the grass and splendor to the flower 

So muttering, 1 flung the gold into the torrent that raged below, 
and went on through the moonlight, sorrowing silently ; only thank- 
ful for the discovery that had quickened my reminiscence of the 
landmarks by which to steer my way through the wilderness. 

The night was half gone, for even when 1 had gained the fami- 
liar trade through the pastures, the swell of the many winding 
creeks that now intersected the way; obliged me often to retrace 
my. steps ; to find, sometimes, the bridge of a felled tree which had 
been providently left unremoved over the now foaming torrent. 
more than once, to swim across the current, in which swim- 
mers less strong or less practiced, would have been dashed down 
the falls, where loose logs and torn trees went clattering and whirl- 
ed : for 1 was in danger of life. A baud of the savage natives ■ 
stealthily creeping on my track — the natives in those parts were 
not then so much awed by the white man as now. A boomerang* 
had whirred by me, burying itself among the herbage close before 
my feet. I had turned, sought to find and to face these dastardly 
fees ; ihey had contrived to elude me. But when I moved on, my 
ear. sharpened by danger, heard them moving too in my rear. — 
Once only three hideous forms suddenly faced me, springing up 
from a thicket, all tangled with honey-suckles and creepers of blue 
and vermilion. I walked steadily up to them; they hailed a mo- 
ment or so in suspense, but perhaps they were seared by my stature 
or awed by my aspect ; and the Unfamiliar, though Human, had 
terror for them, as the Unfamiliar, although but a Shadow, had 
had terror for me. They vanished, and as quickly as if they had 
crept Into the earth. 

.At length the air brought me the soft perfume of my well-known 
acacias, and my house rose before me, amidst English flowers and 
.ish fruit-trees, under the effulgent Australian moon. Just as] 
was opening the little gate which gave access from the pasture- 
land into the garden, a figure in while rose up from under light 
feathery boughs, and a hand was hud on my arm. 1 started ; but: 
my surprise was changed into fear when I saw the pale face and 

"Heavens! you here! you! at this hour! Lilian what is 
this?" 
"Hush!" she whispered, clinging to me; '•hush! do nol tell*; 
OWS. 1 missed you when the storm came on ; I have 



A missile weapon peculiar re the Australian 



298 A STRANGE STORY. 

missed you ever since. Others went in search of you and came 
b'ack. I could not sleep, but the rest are sleeping, so I stole down 
to watch for you. Brother, brother, if any harm chanced to you, 
even the angels could not comfort me ; all would be dark, dark ! 
But you are safe, safe, safe !" And she clung to me yet closer. 

" Ah, Lilian, Lilian, your vision in the hour I first beheld you 
was indeed prophetic — ' Each has need of the other.' Do you 
remember 1" 

" Softly, softly !" she* said, " let me think !" She stood quietly 
by my side, looking up into the sky, with all its numberless stars, 
and its solitary moon now sinking slow behind the verge of the 
forest. " It comes back to me," she murmured, softly — " the 
Long ago — the sweet Long ago !" 

I held my breath to listen. 

"There — there!" she resumed, pointing to the heavens; "do 

you see ? You are there, and my father, and — and Oh, that 

terrible face — those serpent eyes — the dead man's skull ! Save 
me — save me !" 

She bowed her head upon my bosom, and I led her gently back 
toward the house. As we gained the door which she had left 
open, the starlight shining across the shadowy gloom within, she 
lifted her face from my breast and cast a hurried, fearful look 
round the shining garden, then into the dim recess beyond the 
threshold. % 

" It is there— there ! — the Shadow that lured me on, whispering 
that if I followed it I should join my beloved. False, dreadful 
Shadow! it will fade soon, fade into the grinning, horrible skull. 
Brother, brother, where is my Allen ? Is he dead — dead — or is it 
I who am dead to him ?" 

I could hut clasp her again to my breast, and seek to mantle 
her shivering form with my dripping garments, all the while my 
eyes, following the direction which hers had taken, dwelt on the 
walls of the nook within the threshold, half lost in darkness, half 
white in starlight. And there I too beheld the haunting Luminous 
Shadow, the spectral effigies of the mysterious being whose very 
existence in the flesh was a riddle unsolved by my reason. Dis- 
tinctly I saw the Shadow, but its light was far paler, its outline 
far more vague than when I had beheld it before. I took cour- 
age, as I felt Lilian's heart beating against my own. I advanced 
— I crossed the threshold — the Shadow was gone. 

" There is no Shadow here — no phantom to daunt thee, my life's 
life," said I bending over Lilian. 

"It has touched me in passing; I feel it — cold, cold, cold! " 
she answered, faintly. 

I bore her to her room, placed her on her bed, struck a light, 
watched over her. At dawn there was a change in her face, and 
from that time health gradually left her ; strength slowly, slowly, 
yet to me perceptibly, ebbed from her life away. 



A STRANGE STORY. 299 



CHAPTER LXXIII. 



Months upon months have rolled away since the night in which 
Lilian had wa.tehed for my coming amidst the chilling airs under 
the haunting moon. T have said that from the date of that nigbl 

her health began gradually to fail, but in her mind there was i 
deiilly at work some slow revolution. Her visionary abstractions 
were less frequent ; when they occurred, less prolonged. There 
was no longer in her soft face that oelestial serenity which spoke 
•ntent in her dreams ; but often a look of anxiety and trouble. 
.She was even more silent, than before ; but when she did speak. 
there were now evident some struggling gleams of memory. She 
startled us at times by a distinct allusion to- the events and SC< 
of her early childhood. More than mice she spoke of common- 
place incidents and mere acquaintances at L . At last she 

seemed to recognize Mrs. Ashleigh as her mother; but me, as 
Allen Fenwick, her betrothed, her bridegroom, no! Once or 
twice she spoke to me of her beloved as of a stranger to myself, 
and asked me not to deceive her — should she ever see him again ? 
There was one change in Ibis new phase of her stale that wounded 
me to the quick. She had always previously seemed to weir. 
my presence ; now there were hours, sometimes days together, in 
winch my presence was evidently painful to her. She would be- 
agitated when 1 stole into her room — make signs to me to 
her — grow yet more disturbed if I did not immediately 
obey, and become calm again when 1 was gone. 

Faber sought constantly to sustain my courage, and administer 
to my hopes by reminding me of the prediction he had hazarded — 
namely, that through some malady to the frame the reason would 
be ultimately restored. 

He said, " Observe ! her mind was first roused from its slumber 
by the affectionate, unoonquered impulse of her heart. Y' • > u ' 
were absent — the storm alarmed her — she missed you — feared for 
you. The love within her, not alienated, though latest, drew her 
thoughts into definite human tracks. And thus the words that you 
tell me she uttered when you appeared before her, were words of 
love, stricken, though as yet. irregularly, as the winds strike the* 
harp-strings, from chords of awakened memory. The same un- 
wonted excitement, together with lengthened exposure to the cold 
night air, will account for the shock to her physical system, 
and the language and waste of strength by which it has been suc- 
ceeded." 

" Ay, and the Shadow that wo both saw vvilhin the threshold. — 
What of that?" 



300 A STRANGE STORY. 

• "Are there no , records on evidence, which most physicians of 
very extended practice will perhaps allow that their experience 
more or less tends to confirm — no records of the singular coinci- 
dences between individual impressions which are produced by 
sympathy 1 Now, whether you or your Lilian were first haunted 
by this Shadow, I know not. Perhaps before it appeared to you 
in the wizard's chamber, it had appeared to her by the Monk's 
Well. Perhaps as it came to you in the prison, so it lured her 
through the solitudes, associating its illusory guidance with dreams 
of you. And again, when she saw it within your threshold, your 
phantasy, so abruptly invoked, made you see with the eyes of 
your Lilian ! Does this doctrine of sympathy, though by that 
very mystery you two loved each other at first — though, without 
it, love at first sight were in itself an incredible miracle— does, I 
say, this doctrine of sympathy seem to you inadmissible ? Then 
nothing is left for us but to revolve the conjecture I before threw 
out 1 Have certain organizations like that of Margrave, the power 
to impress, through space, the imaginations of those over whom 
they have forced a control '] I know not. But if they have, it is 
not supernatural ; it is but one of those operations in nature so 
rare and exceptional, and of which testimony and evidence are so 
imperfect and so liable to superstitious illusions, that they have 
apt yet been traced ; as, if truthful, no doubt they can be, by the 
patient genius of science, to one of those secondary causes by 
which the Creator ordains that Nature shall act On Man." 

By degrees I became dissatisfied with my conversations with 
Faber. 1 yearned for explanations ; all guesses but bewildered 
me more. In his family, with one exception, I found no conge- 
nial association. His nephew seemed to me an ordinary specimen 
of a very trite human nature — a young man of limited ideas, fair 
moral tendencies, wing mechanically right where not tempted to 
wrong. The same desire of gain which had urged him to gamble 
and speculate when thrown into societies rife with such examples, 
led him, now in the Bush, to healthful, industrious, persevering 
labor. Spesforet agricolas, says the poet; the same Hope which 
entices the fish to the hook impels the plough to the husbandman. 
The young farmer's young wife was somewhat superior to him ; 
she had mor,e refinement of taste, more culture of mind, but, liv- 
ing in his life, she was inevitably leveled to Ids ends and pursuits. 
And, next to the babe in the cradle, no object seemed to her so 
important as that -of guarding the sheep from the scab and the 
dingoes. I was amazed to see how quietly a man whose mind 
was so stored by life, and by books as that of Julius Faber — a 
man who had loved the clash of conflicting intellects, and ac- 
quired the rewards of fame — could accommodate himself to the 
cabined range of his kinsfolk's half-civilized existence, take inter- 
est in their trivial talk* find varying excitement in the monotonous 
household of a peasant-like farmer. I could not. help saying as 



A STRANGE STORY. 301 

much to him once. "My friend," replied the old man "believe 
hk\ that the happiest art of intellect, however lofty, is that which 
enables it to be cheerfully at home with the Real !'" 

The only one of the family in which Faber was domesticated in 
whom I found an interest, to whose talk I could listen without 
fatigue, was t he child Amy. Simple though she was in language, 
patien' of labor as ihe most laborious, I recognized in her a quiet 
nobleness of sentiment which exalted above the commonplace the 
acts of her commonplace life. She had no precocious intellect, 
no enthusiastic fancies, but she had an exquisite activity of heart. 
It was her heart that animated her sense of duty, and made duty 
a sweetness and a joy. She felt to the core the kindness of those 
around her; exaggerated, with the warmth of her gratitude, the 
claims which thai kindness imposed. Even for the blessing of 
life, which she shared with all creation, she felt as if singed out 
by the undeserved favor of the Creator, and thus was tilled with 
religion because she was filled with love. 

My interest in this child was increased ,and deepened by y 
saddened and not wholly unremorseftil remembrance of the night 
Oil which her sobs had pierced my ear — the niglii from which I se- 
cretly dated the mysterious agencies that had wrenched from their 
proper field and career both my mind and my life. Bur a gentler 
interest endeared her to my thoughts in the pleasure that Lilian 
felt in her visits, in the affectionate intercourse that sprang uu be- 
tween the afflicted sufferer and the harmless infant.. Often, wflen 
we failed to comprehend some meaning which Lilian evidently 
wished to convey to us — toe, her mother and her husband — she 
was understood with as much ease by Amy, the unlettered child. 
as by Faber. the gray-haired thinker. 

" How is i: — How is it ?" 1 asked impatiently and jealousy, of 
Faber " Love is said to interpret where wisdom fails, and you 
yourself talk of the marvels which sympathy may effect between 
lover and beloved ; yet when, for days together, 1 cannot succeed 
in unravelling Lilian's wish or her thought — and her own mother 
is equally in fault — you or Amy, closeted aloi e with her for five 
minutes, comprehend and are comprehend 

'• .Mien,'* answered Faber, " Amy and I believe in spirit, and' 
she, in whom mind is dormant but spirit awake, feels in that belief 
a sympathy which she has not, in that respect, with yourself nor 
e\en with her mother. You seek only through your mind to con- 
jecture hers. Her mother has sense clear enough where habitual 

lieiice can guide it, but that sense is confused and fora 
her when forced from the regular pathway in which it has heen 
domed to tread. Amy and 1 through sou! guess at soul, and 
though mostly contented with earth, we can both rise at times in- 
to heaven. We pray." 

•-.Mas!" said I, half mournfully, half angry, "when you 
thus apeak of Mind as distinct from Soul, it was only in that Vision 



302 A STRANGE STOBY. 

which you bid me regard as the illusion of a fancy stimulated by 
chemical vapors, producing on the brain an effect similar to that 
of opium, or the inhalation of the oxide gas, that I have ever seen 
the silver spark of the Soul distinct from the light of the Mind. 
And holding, as I do, that all intellectual ideas are derived from 
the experiences of the body, whether I accept the theory of Locke, 
or that of Condillac, or that into which their propositions reached 
their final development in the wonderful subtlety of Hume, I can- 
not, detect the immaterial spirit in the, material substance, much 
less follow its escape from the organic matter in which the princi- 
ple of thought ceases with the principle of life. When the 
metaphysician, contending for the immortality of the thinking 
faculty, analyzes Mind, his analysis comprehends the mind of the 
brute, nay of the insect, as well as that of man. Take Eeid's 
definition of Mind, as the most comprehensive which I can at the 
moment remember. \ By the mind of a man we understand that 
in him which thinks, remembers, reasons, and wills.' But this 
definition only distinguishes the Mind of man from that of the 
brute by superiority in the same attributes, and not by attributes 
denied to the brute. An animal, even an insect, thinks, remem- 
bers, reasons, and wills.* Few naturalists will now support the 
doctrine that all the mental operations of brute or insect are to be 
exclusively referred to instincts ; and even if they do, the word 
instinct is a very vague word — loose and large enough to cover an 
abyss which our knowledge has not sounded. And, indeed, in pro- 
portion as an animal, like the dog, becomes cultivated by inter- 
course, his instincts become weaker, and his ideas, formed by ex- 
perience (namely, his mind), more developed, often to the conquest, 
of the instincts themselves. Hence, with his usual candor, Dr. 
Abercrombie.'in contending ' that every thing mental ceases to 
exist after death, when we know that every thing corporeal con- 
tinues to exist, is a gratuitous assumption contrary to every rule of 
philosophical inquiry,' — feels compelled, by his reasoning, to admit 
the probability of a future life even to the lower animals. His 
words are : ' To this mode of reasoning it has been objected 



* " Are intelligence and instinct, thus differing in their relative proportion 
in man as compared with all other animals, yet the same in kind and manner 
of operation in both? To this question we must give at once an affirmative 
answer. The expression of (Juvier, regarding the faculty of reasoning in 
lower animals. 'Leur intelligence execute des operations du meme genre,' is 
true in its full sense. We can- in no manner define reason so as to exclude 
acts which are at every moment present to our observation, and which we 
find in many instances to contravene the natural instincts of the species. The 
demeanor and acts of the dog in reference to his master, or the various uses to 
which he is put by man, are as strictly logical as those we witness in the 
ordinary transactions id' life." — (Sir Henry Holland, Chapters on Mental 
Physiology, p. 220.) The whole of the chapter on instincts and habits in this 
work should be read in connection with the passage just quoted. The Work 
itself, at once cautious and suggestive, is not one of the least obligations \\ bich 
philosophy and religion alike owe to the lueubratiou* of English medical men. 



A STRANGB STORY. 303 

I 

that it would go' to establish an immaterial principle in the lower 
animals, which in them exhibits many of the phenomena of 
mind. I have only to answer, be it so. There are in the lower 
animals many of the phenomena of mind, and with regard to these 
we also contend thai they are entirely distinct from any thing' we 
know of the properties of matter, which is all that we mean, or can 
mean, by being immaterial.'* Am I then driven to admit that if 
man's mind is immaterial and imperishable, so also is that of the 
ape and the ant ?" 

"I own," said Faber, with his peculiar smile, arch and genial, 
"that if I were compelled to make that admission, it would not 
shock my pride. I do not presume to set any limit to the good- 
ness of the Creator ; and should be as humbly pleased as the In- 
dian, if in 

' yonder sky, 

My faithful dog should bear aid company.' 

You are too familiar with the works of that Titan in wisdom and 
error, Descartes, not to recollect the interesting correspondence ■ 
between the urbane philosopher and our combative countryman, 
Henry More,! on this very subject ; In which certainly More has 
the best of it.when Descartes insists on reducing what he calls the 
soul (Tame) of brutes into the same kind of machines as man con- 
structs from inorganized matter. The learning, indeed, lavished 
on the insoluble question involved in the psychology Of the inferior 
animals, is a proof at least of the all-inquisitive, redundanl spirit of 
man.J We have almost a literature in itself devoted to endeavors 
to interpret the language of brutes.§ Dupont de Nemours has dis- 
covered'that dogs talk in vowels, using only two consonants, a, z, 
when they are angry, lie asserts that cats employ the same vow- 
els as dogs; but their language is more affluent in consonants, in- 
cluding M, i\, B, {t, v, v. How many laborious efforts have been 
made to define and construe the song of the nightingale ! (hie 
version of thai song by Beckstein, the naturalist, published in 1840, 
1 remember to have seen. And I heard a lady, gifted with a 
singularly charming voice, chaunl the mysterious vowels with so 
isite a pathos, that one could not refuse to believe her when 
she declared that she fully comprehended the birds meaning, and 



lercrombie's Intellectual Powers, p. 26. Fifteenth Edition. 

i CEuvres de Descartes, vol. x. p. 178, et Beq. (Cousin's edition.) 

t VI. Tissoi, the distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Dyon, in his re- 
work, La Vie dans rilonnne, p. 255, gives a long and illustrious list of 
philosophers who assign a rational soul (fame) to tin' inferior animals, though 
he truly adds, "thai they have noi always the courage of their opinion." 

fl Some idea of the extent of research and imagination bestowed on thi* 
subject may be gleaned from the sprightly work of Pierquin du Uembloux, 
Iduiimdoj}!* d«t Aniumux, published at Paris, lbi-U. 



304 A STRANGK STORY. \ 

gave to the nightingale's warble the tender interpretation of her 
own woman's heart. 

" But leaving all such discussions to their proper place amongst 
the Curiosities of literature, 1 come in earnest to the question you 
have so earnestly raised, and to me the distinction between man 
and the lower animals in reference to a spiritual nature designed 
for a future existence, and 'the mental operations whose uses are 
hounded to an existence on earth, seems ineffaceably clear. Whether 
ideas or even perceptions be innate or all formed by experience is 
a speculation for metaphysicians, which, so far as effects the ques- 
tion of an immaterial principle, I am quite willing to lay aside. I 
can well understand that a materialist may admit innate ideas in 
Man, as he must, admit them in the instinct of brutes, tracing them 
to hereditary predispositions. On the other hand, we. know that 
the most devout believers in our spiritual nature have insisted, 
with Locke, in denying any idea, even of the Deity, to be innate. 

" But here comes my argument. I care not how ideas are form- 
ed, the material point is, how are the capacities to receive ideas 
formed. The ideas may all come from experience, but the capacity 
to receive the ideas must be inherent. I take the word capacity 
as a good plain English word, rather than the more technical word 
' receptivity,' employed by Kant. And by capacity I mean the 
passive power* to receive ideas, whether in man or in any living 
thing by which ideas are received. A man and an elephant is 
each formed with capacities. to receive ideas suited to the several 
places in the universe held by each. 

" The more 1 look through nature the more I find that on all 
varieties of organized life is carefully bestowed the capacity to re- 
ceive the impressions, bej they called perceptions or ideas, which 
arc adapted to the uses each creature is intended to derive from 
them, I find, then, that Man alone is endowed with the capacity 
to receive the ideas of a God, of Soul, of Worship, of a Hereafter. 
I see no trace of such a capacity in the inferior races; nor, how- 
ever their intelligence may be refined by culture, is such capacity 
ever apparent in them. 

- But wherever capacities to receive impressions arc sufficiently 
general in any given species of creature, to be called universal to 
that species, and yet not given to another species, then, from ail 
analogy throughout Nature, those capacities are surely designed 
by Providence for the distinct use and conservation of the species 
to which they are given. 

" It is no answer to me to say that the inherent capacities thus 
bestowed on Man do not suffice in themselves to make him form 
right notions of a Deity or a Hereafter ; because it is plainly the 
design of Providence that Man must learn to correct and improve 
all his notions by his own study and observation. He must build 

*" Faculty is active power; capacity is passive power." — Sir W. Hamil- 
ton, Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic, vol. i., p. 17d. 



A HTKANWB STuKY. S0£ 

a hut before he can build a Parthenon ; he must believe with th<a 
savage or the heathen before he can believe with the philosopher 
or Christian. In a won], in all his capacities, Man has only given 
to him, not the immediate knowledge of the Perfect, but the tn 
to strive toward the Perfect. And thus one of the most ai 
plished of modern reasotfers, to whose lectures you must have 
listened with delight in your college days, says well : ' AjCC< 
ingly, the sciences always studied with keenest interest, are those in 
a state of progress and uncertainty ; absolute certainty and absolute 
completion would be the paralysis of any study, and ,.orst 

calamity that could befall Man, as he is at present constituted, 
would lie that. full and final possession of speculative truth which 
he now vainly anticipates as the consummation of his intellectual 
happiness* 

"Well, then, in all those capacities for the reception of impres- 
sions from external Nature, which are given to Man and not to thia 
brutes, I see the evidence of Man's Soul. 1 can understand why 
lienor animal has no capacity to receive the idea of a Deity 
and of Worship — simply because the inferior animal, even if gra- 
ciously admitted to a future life, may not therein preserv 
of its identity! 1 can understand even why that sympathy with 
each ,'h we men possess, and which constitutes the g] 

virtue we emphatically pall Humanity, is not possessed by the 
ser animals (or, at least, in a very rare and exceptional degree), 
even where they live in communities, like beavers, or b ants; 

because .men are destined to meet, to knew, and to love each other 
in the life to come, and the bond between the brutes ceases here. 

Now, the more, then, we examine the inherent capa 
stowed distinctly and "solely on Man, the more they seem to dis- 
tinguish him from the other i teir comprehension of obj 

id his life upon this earth. 'Man alone,' says Miillei% ' can 
n lions:'" and it is in abstract notions — such as 
e, matter, .spirit, light, formi quantity, essence— that Man 
grounds not only all philosophy, all science, but all that practical- 
ly improves one generation for the benefit of the next. And Why I 
Because all these abstract notions unconsciously lead the mind 
away from the material into the immaterial ; from the present into 
the future." Bui if Man ceases to exist when he disappears in the 
grave, you must be compelled to affirm that he is the only creature 
in exi Nature or Providence has condescended to de- 

and cheat by capacities for which there are no available 
objects. How nobly and how truly lias Chalmers said: 'What 
inference shall we draw from this remarkable law in Ne 
there is nothing waste and nothing meaningless in the feelings and 
faculties wherewith living creatures are endowed ! For each d< 
there is a counterpart objects for each faculty there is room and 

* Sir W. Hamilton's Lectures, ▼•!. i., p. 18. 
2t 



306 A STRANGE STORY. 

opportunity for exercise either in the present or in the coming 
futurity. Now, but for the doctrine of immortality, Man would be 
an exception to this law — he would stand forth as an anomally in 
Nature, with aspirations in his heart for which the universe had no 
antitype to offer, with capacities of understanding and thought that 
never were to be followed by objects of corresponding greatness 
through the whole history of his being ! 

. " ' With the inferior animals there is a certain squareness of ad- 
justment, if we may so term it, between each desire and its cor- 
respondent gratification. The one is evenly met by the other, and 
there is a fulness and definiteness of enjoyment up to the capacity 
of enjoyment. Not so with Man, who, both from the vastness of 
his propensities and the vastness of his powers, feels himself chain- 
ed and beset in a field too narrow for him. He alone labors under 
the discomfort of an incongruity between his circumstances and his 
powers, and unless there be new circumstances awaiting him in a 
more advanced state of being, he, the noblest of Nature's products 
here, would turn out to be the greatest of her failures.'* 

" This, then, I take to'be the proof of the Soul in Man, not that 
he has a mind — because, as you justly say, inferior animals have 
that, though in a lesser degree — but because he has the capacities 
to comprehend, as soon as he is capable of any abstract ideas 
whatsoever, the very truths not needed for self-conservation on 
earth, and therefore not given to yonder ox and oppossum, namely, 
the nature of Deity — Soul — Hereafter. And in the recognition of 
these truths the Human society that excels the society of beavers, 
bees, and ants by perpetual and progressive improvement on the 
notions inherited from its progenitors, rests its basis. Thus, in 
fact, this world is benefitted for men by their belief in the next, 
while the society of brutes remains age after age the same. Neither 
the bee nor the heaver has, in all probability, improved since the 
Deluge. 

" But inseparable from the convictions of these truths is the im- 
pulse of prayer and worship. It does not touch my argument 
when a philosopher of the school of Bolingbroke or Lucretius says, 
4 that the origin of prayer is in Man's ignorance of the phenomena 
of Nature.' That it is fear or ignorance which ' when rocked the 
mountains, or when groaned the ground, taught the weak to bend, 
the proud to pray,' my answer is — the brutes are much more 
forcibly impressed by natural phenomena than Man is ; the bird 
and the beast know before you and I do when the mountain will rock 
and the ground groan, and their instinct leads them to shelter ; but 

* Chalmers, Bridge-water Treatise, vol. ii., pp. 28, 30. Perhaps I should 
observe that here and elsewhere, in the dialogues between Faber and Fen- 
wick, it has been generally thought better to substitute the words of the 
author quoted for ther mere outline or purport of the quotation which memory 
afforded to the interlocutor. 



A STUAXUE STORY. 307 

it does not lead them to prayer. If my theory he right that Soul 
is In be sought nut. in the question whether mental ideas be innate 
or formed by experience, by the senses, by association or habit, hut 
mi the Inherent capacity te receive ideas — the rapacity bestowed 
on Man alone, to be impressed by Nature herself with the idea of 
a rower superior to Nature, -With which Power he oan establish 
conuimne, is a ]>rooi' that to Man alone the Maker has made Na- 
ture Itself proclaim His existence — that to Man alone the Deity 
vouchsafes the communion with Himself which comes from 
prayer." 

" Even were this so." said I, " is no$ the Creator omniscient 1 if 
all-wise, all-fOre-seeing ! if all-fore-seeing, pre-ordaining.' Can (ho 
prayer of His creature alter the ways of His will 1 " 

"For an answer to that question," returned Faber, " which is 
so often asked by theclever men of the world, I ought to referyou 
to the skilled theologian^ who have so triumphantly oarried th.' 
reasoner over that ford of dduhl which is crossed every day hy 
the infant. But as we have not their books in the wilderness. Iain 
ited to draw my reply as a necessary and logical sequence 
from the propositions 1 have sought to ground in. the plain obser- 
vation of Nature. I can only guess at the Deity's ( huuiscietice, 
or His modes of enforcing His power, by the observation of His 
general laws, 1 know of none so general as the impul.-o which bids 
men pray — which makes Nature so act that all the phenome 
Nature we can conceived however si art ling and ^experienced, do 
nor make the brute pray ; but there is not a trouble that can hap- 
pen to Man but what his impulse is to pray — always provided, in- 
deed, thai he is not a philosopher. I say not this in scorn of the 
philosi , i o whose wildest guess our obligations arc iniinite, 
bui simp' ■ for all which is impulsive to Man, there is a 

reason in Nature which no philosophy oan explain away, 1 do 
not. then, bewilder myself by seeking "to bind and limit the Omnis- 
cience ol* the Deity to my finite ideas. 1 content myself with be- 
lieving that, somehow or other, He has made it quite compatible 
with liis Omniscience that Man should obey the impulse that leads 
him to believe that in addressing a Deity he is addressing a tender, 
pomp assion ate, benignant .Father, and in that obedience shall obtain 
ieial results, if thai impulse be an illusion, then we must- say 
Heaven governs the earth by a lie: and thai ii is im 
possible, because, reasoning by analogy, all Nature is truth- 
ful — that is, Nature gives to no species instincts of im- 
pulses which are not of service to it. Should 1 not be a 
shallow physician if, where I find in the human organization 
a principle or a property so general that 1 must believe it normal 
Ithful conditions of thai organization, 1 should refuse to 
admit thai Nature intended it for use \ Reasoning by all anal 
must 1 Hot say the habitual neglect of its use ""iM i lore or less 
injure the harmonious well-being of the whole human system I 1 



308 A STKANGB STORY. 

could have much to add upon the point in dispute, by which the 
creed implied in your question would inthral the Divine mercy by 
the necessities of its divine wi nd substitute for a benignant 

Deity a relentless Fate. But here I should exceed my province. 
I am no theologian. Enough for me that in all affliction, all per- 
plexity, an impulse that I obey as an instinct moves me at once .to 
prayer. Do I find by experience that the prayer is heard, that the 
affliction is removed, the doubt is solved ? That, indeed, would be 
presumptuous to say. But it is not presumptuous to think that by 
the efficacy of prayer my heart becomes more fortified against the 
sorrow, and my reason more serene amidst the doubt." 

I listened, and ceased to argue. I felt as if in that solitude, 
and in the pause of my wonted mental occupations, my intellect 
was growing languid, and its old weapons rusting in disuse. My 
pride took alarm. I had so from my boyhood cherished the idea 
of fame, and so glorified the search after knowledge, that I re- 
coiled in dismay from the thought that I had relinquished knowl- 
edge, and out myself off from fame. I resolved to resume my 
once favorite philosophical pursuits, reexamine and complete the 
Work to which I had once committed my hopes of renown ; and, 
simultaneously, a restless desire seix: d me to communicate, though 
but at brief intervals, with other minds than those immediately 
within my reach — minds fresh front the old world, and reviving 
■ Memories of its vivid civilization. Emigrants frequently 
passed oes, but I had hitherto shrunk from tendering the 

hospitalities so universally a- hi the colony. I could not 

endure to expose to such, t angers my Lilian's mournful 

■'ton, and that thought was no.1 less intolerable to Mrs. Ash- 
leigli. J now hastily constructed a log building a few hundred 
yards from the house, and near the main track taken by travelers 
throng!: the spacious pastures; i iransported to this building my 
books and scientific instruments. In an upper story I placed my 
telescopes and lenses, my crucibles and retorts. I renewed my 
chemical experiments — I sought to invigorate my mind by other 
branches of science which I had hitherto less cultured — meditated 
new theories on Light and Color — collected specimens in Natural 
History — subjected animalcules to my microscope — geological 
fossils to my hammer. With all these quickened occupations of 
thought, I strove to distract myself from sorrow, and strengthen 
my reason against the illusions of my fantasy. The Luminous 
Shadow was not seen again on my wall, and the thought of Mar- 
grave himself was banished. 

In this building I passed many hours of each day, more and 
more earnestly plunging my thoughts into the depths of abstract 
study, as Lilian's unaccountable dislike to my presence became 
more and more decided. When I thus ceased to think that my 
life cheered and comforted hers, my heart's occupation was gone. 
I lusd a*na«sed Ira &e apa*tnaeiat reserved for m$ eelf i« ikix leg-- 



A STUA\«B STORY. 309 

hut a couple of spare rooms, in which I could accommodate pass- 
ing strangers, I learned to look forward to their coming with in- 
terest, and to see them depart with regret ; yet, for the most part, 
they were of the ordinary class of colonial adventurers : bank- 
rupt tradesmen, unlucky farmers, forlorn mechanics, hordes of un- 
skilled laborers, now and then a briefless barrister, or a sporting 
collegian who had lost his all on the Derby. One day, however, a 
young man of education and manners that unmistakably pro- 
claimed the cultured gentleman of Europe, stopped at my door. — 
lie was a cadet, of a noble Prussian family, Which, for some. polit- 
ical reasons had settled itself in Paris; there be had become in- 
timate with young French nobles, and, living the life of a young 
French noble, had soon scandalized his German parents, fore- 
stalled his slender inheritance, and been compelled to lly his fa- 
ther's frown and his, tailors' bills. All this' he told me with a 
lively frankness which proved how much the wit of a German 
can be quickened in the atmosphere of Paris. An old college 
friend, of birth inferior to his own, had been as unfortunate in 
seeking to make money as this young prodigal had been an adept 
in spending it. The friend, a few years previously, had accom- 
panied other Germans in a migration to Australia, and was already 
tliriving; the spendthrift noble was on his way to join the bank- 
rupt trader, at a German settlement fifty miles distant from my 
house. This young man was unlike any German I ever met. — 
He had all the exquisite levity by which the well-bred French- 
man gives to the doctrines of the Cynic the grace of the Epicu- 
rean, lie owned himself to be good for nothing with an elegar.ee 
of candor which not only disarmed censure, but seemed to chal- 
lenge admiration : and, withal, the happy spendthrift was so ine- 
briate with hope — sure that he should be rich before he" was thirty. 
How and wherefore rich ? — he could have no more explained than 
I can square the circle. When the grand serious German nature 
does Frenchify itself, it can become so extravagantly French! 

I listened, almost enviously, to this light-hearted profligate's 
babble as we sat, by my rude fireside — I, sombre man of science 
and sorrow, he, smiling child ofidlesse and pleasure, so much one 
of Nature's courtier-like nobles, that there, as he smoked his vil- 
lainous pipe, in his dust-soiled shabby garments, and with his ruf- 
fianly revolver stuck into bis belt, I would defy the daintiest 
Aristarctl who ever presided as critic over the holiday world not 
to have said, "There sits the genius beyond my laws, the born 
darling of the Graces, who, in every circumstance in every age, 
like Aristippus, would have Socially charmed — would have been 
come to the orgies of a Cu'sar or a Claudius, to the boudoirs of 
a Montespan or a Pampadonr — have lounged through the AI ul- 
bery Gardens with a Rochester and a Buckingham, or smiled 
from the death-cart with a Richelieu and a Lauzum — a gentle- 
ujairs disdain of a mob !" 



JifO A STRANGE SFORY. 

I was so thinking as we sat, his light talk frothing up from his 
careless lips, when suddenly from the spray and the sparkle of 
that light talk was flung forth the name of Margrave. 

" Margrave !" I exclaimed. " Pardon me. What of him V 

" What of him ! I asked if, by chance, you knew the only 
Englishman I ever had the meanness to envy ?" 

" Perhaps you speak of one person, and I thought of another/' 

" Pardieu, my dear host, there can scarcely be two Margraves ! 
The one I mean flashed like a meteor upon Paris, bought from a 
prince of the Bourse a palace that might have lodged a prince of 
the blood royal, eclipsed our Jew bankers in splendor, our jeunesse 
doree in good looks and hair-brain adventures, and, strangest of 
all, filled his salons with philosophers and charlatans, chemists 
and spirit-rappers; insulting the gravest dons of the schools by» 
bringing them face to face with the most impudent quacks, the 
most ridiculous dreamers — and yet, withal, himself so racj\ and 
charming, so bon prince, so bon enfant ! For six months he was 
the rage at Paris; perhaps he might have continued to be the 
rage for -six years, but all at once the meteor vanished as sud- 
denly as H had flashed. Is this the Margrave whom you know ?" 

" I <->! ould not have thought the Margrave whom I knew could 
have reconciled his tastes to the life of cities." 

" Nor eould this man : cities were too tame for him. He has 
gone to some far-remote wilds in the East — some say in search of 
the philosopher's stone — for he actually maintained in his house a 
Sicilian adventurer, who, when at work on that famous discovery, 
was stifled by the fumes of his own crucible. After that misfor- 
tune Margrave took Paris in disgust, and we lost him." 

" So this is the only gentleman whom you envy ! Envy him ! 
Why V 

" Beeau.se he is the only Englishman I ever met who contrived 
to be rich and vet free from the spleen ; I envied him because 
one had only to look at his face, and see how thoroughly he en- 
joyed the life of which your countrymen seem to be so heartily 
tired ! But now that I have satisfied your curiosity, pray, satisfy 
mine. Who and what is this Englisman 1" 

"Who and what was he supposed to be in Paris ?" 
. " Conjectuies were numberless. One of your countrymen sug- 
gested that which was most generally believed. This gentleman, 
whose ftame I forget, but who was one of those old roues who 
fancy themselves young because they live with the young, no 
sooner set eyes upon Margrave than he exclaimed, ' Louis Grayle 
come to life again, as I saw him forty-four years ago ! But no — 
still younger, still handsomer — it must be his son ! ' " 

" Louis Grayle, who was said to be murdered at Aleppo 1" 

" The same. That strange old man wa>s enormously rich, but 
it seems that he hated his lawful heirs, and left behind him a for- 
tune so far below that which he was known to possess, thai he 



A STKANGE STORV. 311 

must certainly have disposed of it secretly before his death. — 
Why so dispose of it, if not to enrich some natural son, whom, for 
private reasons, he might Dot have wished to acknowledge or 
point out to the world, by the signal bequest of his will ? All 
that Margrave ever said of himself and uho source of" his wealth 
confirmed his belief. He frankly proclaimed himself a natural 
son, enriched by a father whose name he knew not nor cared to 
know." 

" It is true. And Margrave quitted Paris for the East 1 — 
When V 

"I can tell you the date within a day or two, for his flight pre- 
ceded mine by a week ; and, happily, all Paris was so busy in 
talking of it that I slipped away without notice." 

A»d the Prussian then named a date which it thrilled me to 
hear, for it was in that very month, and about that very day, that 
the Luminous Shadow had stood within my threshold. 

The young Count now struck off into other subjects of talk ; 
nothing more was said of Margrave. An hour or two afterward 
he went on his way, and I remained long-gazing musingly on the 
embers jef the fire dying low on my hearth. 



DHAPTER LXXIV. 



Mv Work, my i'hilosophical Work — the ambitious hope of my 
intellectual life-^how eagerly 1 returned to it again ! Far away 
from my household grief, far away from my haggard perplexities. 
Neither a Lilian nor a Margrave there! 

As«[ went over what I had before written, each link in its chain 
of reasoning seemed so serried, that to alter one were to derange 
all : and the whole reasoning was so opposed to the possibility of 
the wonders 1 myself had experienced, so hostile to the subtle 
hypotheses, of a Faber or the childlike belief of an Amy, that I 
must have destroyed the entire work if I had admitted such con- 
tradictions to its design ! 

Put the work was I myself! I, in my solid, sober, healthful 
mind, before the brain had been perplexed by a phantom. Were 
phantoms to be allowed as testimonies against science? No ; in 
returning to my Book I returned to my former Me ! 

How strange is that contradiction between our being as a man 
and our being as an author ! Take any writer enamoured of a 
system — a thousand tilings may happen to him every day which 
i shake his faith in thai system ; and while he moves about as 
a mere man, his faith is shaken. Bui when he settles himself 
hack into the phase of his being as author, the mere act of taking 



S12 

A STRANGE STORY. 

pen in hand and smoothing the paper before him restores his spec- 
ulations to their ancient mechanical train. The system, the be- 
loved system, reasserts its tyrannic sway, and he either ignores, 
or moulds into fresh proofs of his theory as author, all which, an 
hour before, had given his theory the lie in his living perceptions 
as man. 

I adhered to my system : I continued my work. Here, in the 
barbarous desert, was a link between me and the cities of Europe. 
All else might break down under me. The love I had.dreamed of 
was blotted out from the world and might never be restored ; my 
hearth might be lonely, my life be an exiles. My reason might, 
at last, give way before the spectres which awed my senses or the 
sorrows which stormed my heart. But here, at least, was a monu- 
ment of my rational, thoughtful Me — of my individualized identi- 
ty in multiform creation. And my mind, in the noon of its force* 
would shed its light on the earth when my form was resolved to 
its elements. Alas! in this very yearning for the Hereafter* 
igfe but the Hereafter of a Name, could I see only the craving 
of Mind, and bear not the whisper of Soul? 

The avocations of a colonist, usually active, had little interest 
for me. The vast territorial lordship, in which, could I have en- 
deared its possession by the hopes thai animate a Founder*! should 
felt all the zest and the pride of ownership, was but the run 
of a common to the passing emigrant, who would leave no sons to 
inherit the tardy products of his labor. Ifwas not goaded to in- 
dustry by the stimulus of need. I could only be ruined if I risked 
all my capital in the attempt to improve. I lived, therefore, 
among my fertile pastures', as careless of culture as the English 
occupant of the Highland moor, which he rents for the range of its 
solitudes. 

I knew, indeed, that, if ever 1 became avaricious, I might swell 
my modest affluence into absolute wealth. T had revisited tie spot 
in which I had discovered the nugget of gold, and had found the 
precious metal in rich abundance jmft under the first coverings of 
the alluvial soil. 1 concealed my discovery from all. I knew that 
did I proclaim it, the charm of my Bush-life would be/gone. My 
fields would be infested by all the wild adventurers who gather to 
gold as the vultures of prey round a carcass; my servants would 
desert me, my very flocks would be shepherdless ! 

Months again rolled on months. I had just approached the close 
of my beloved Work when it was again suspended, and by an 
anguish keener than all which I had previously known. 

Lilian became alarmingly ill. Her state of health, long gradual- 
ly declining, had hitherto admitted checkered intervals of improve- 
ment, and exhibited no symptoms of actual danger. But now she 
was seized with a kind of chronic fever, attended with absolute 
privation of sleep, an aversion to even the lightest nourishment, 
and an acute aervous susceptibility to all the outward impressions, 



A STRANGE 8T0RY. 313 

of which she had long: seemed so unconscious; morbidly alive to 
the faintest sound, shrinking from the light as from a torture. 
Her previous impatience at my entrance into her room became 
aggravated into tenement emotions, convulsive paroxysms of dis- 
tress. So that. Faber banished me from her chamber, and. with a 
heart bleeding at every fibre, 1 submitted to the cruel aentetii 

ber had taken up his abode in my house amd brought. Amy 
with him ; one or the other never left Lilian, night or day. 
great physician spoke doubtfully of the case, but not despairingly. 

" Remember," he said, " that, in spire of the want of sleep, the 
abstinence of food, the form has not wasted as it would do were 
this fever inevitably mortal. It is upon that phenomenon 1 build 
a hope that I have not been mistaken in the opinion 1 hazarded 
from the first. We are now in the midst of the critical struggle 
between life and reason ; if she preserve the one, my conviction is 
that she will regain the other. That seeming antipathy to your- 
self is a good omen. You are inseparably associated with her in- 
tellectual world; in proportion as she revives to it, most, become 
vivid and powerful the reminiscences of the shock that annulled for 
a time that world to her. So 1 we come, ral i i fear, the 

owr-susceptibi!ity of the awakening senses to external sights and 
sounds. A few days will decide if I am right la this climate 
the progress of acute maladies is swift, but the recovery from them 
is \ et more start lingly rapid. Wait — endure — be prepared to sub- 
mit to the will of Heaven: hut do not despond of its mercy." 

I rushed away from the consider — away into the t hie', of the 
forests, the heart of the solitude. All around me. there, was joy- 
ous v rlie locusts sang amidst the herbage : the cranes 
gambolled oh the hanks of the creek" ; the suuirrel-'ike opossums 
frolicked on tin boughs. " And what," said 1 bo myself — 
\" what if .that which seems so fabulous in the distant being, whose 

bas bewitched 'my own, lie substantially true '.' Wi 
to some potent medicament Margrave owes his glorious vitality , 
his radiant youth ! I >b ! that i had not so disdainfully turned 
away from bis hinted solicitations — to what I — to nothing guiltier 
lawful experiment. Had 1 been less a devoted bigot to this 
vain Schoolcraft, which we call the Medical Art. and which alone 
in this age of science, has made no perceptible progress since the 
days of its earliest teachers — had 1 said in the true humility of 
genuine knowledge, 'these alchemists Were men of genius and 
thou; >we to i hem near y ail the grand hints of our chemical, 

is it- likely that they would have been wholly .drivellers 
and idiots in the one (aito they clung to - I said 

that, I might iy Lilian. ,AV 

all, should then in Nature one primary esseni 

substance, in which is store* nutriment of ii 

Thus incoherently mu my pride of 

add not have suffered tn How 



314 A STRANGE STORY. 

men, I fatigued my tormented spirits into a gloomy calm, and me- 
chanically retraced ray steps at the decline of day. I seated myself 
at the door of my solitary/ log-hut, leaning my cheek upon my 
hand, and musing. Wearily I looked up, roused by a discord of 
clattering hoofs and lumbering wheels on the hollow-sounding 
grass track. A crazy, groaning vehicle, drawn by four horses, 
emerged from tbe copse of gum-trees — fast, fast along the road, 
which no such pompous vehicle had traversed since that which had 
borne me — luxurious satrap for an early colonist — to my lodge in 
the wilderness. What emigrant rich enough to squander, in the 
hire of such an equipage, more than its cost in Englund, could 
thus be entering on my waste domain 1 An ominous thrill shot 
through me. 

The driver — peiv.aps some broken-down son of luxury in the 
Old World, fit for nothing in the New World but to ply for hire 
the task that might have led to his ruin when plied in sport — stop- 
ped at the door of my hut, and called out, " Friend, is not this the 
great Fenwick Section 1 and is not yonder pile of building the 
Master's house 1 " 

Before Fcould answer I heard a faint voice, within the vehicle, 
speaking to the driver ; tbe last nodded, descended from his seat, 
opened the carriage door, and offered his arm to a man, who, waving 
aside the proffered aid, descended slowly and feebly ; paused a 
moment as if for breath, and then, leaning on his staff, walked from 
the road, across the sward rank with luxuriant herbage, through 
the little gate in the new-set fragrant wattle-fence, wearily, languid- 
ly, halting often, till he stood facing me, leaning both wan, emaci- 
ated hands upon his staff, and his meagre form shrinking -deep 
within the folds of a closk lined thick with costly sables. His 
I. it was sharp, his complexion of a livid yellow, his eyes shone 
out from their hollowed orbits, unnaturally enlarged and fatally 
bright. Thus, in ghastly contrast to his former splendor of youth 
and opulence of life, Margrave stood before me. 

" I come to you," said Margrave, in accents hoarse and broken, 
" from the shores of the East, drive me shelter and rest. I have 
that to say which will more than repay you." 

Whatever till that moment my hate and my fear of this unex- 
pected visitant, hate would have been inhumanity, fear a meanness, 
conceived for a creature so awfully stricken down. 

Silently, involuntarily, 1 led him into the house. There he 
rested a few minutes with closed eyes and painful gasps for breath. 
Meanwhile the driver' brought from the carriage a traveling-bag 
and a small wooden ch st or coffer, strongly banded with iron clamps. 
Margrave, looking up as the man drew near, exclaimed fiercely, 
" Who told you to touch that chest 1 How dare you 1 Take it 
from that man, Fenwick ! Place it here — here by my side ! " 

I took the dhest from the driver, whose rising anger at' being so 



A STRANGE STORY. 315 

imperiously rated in the land of democratic equality, was appeased 
by the gold w iicfi Margrave lavishly flung to him. 
' "Take care of the poor gentleman, squire," he whispered to me, 
in the spontaneous impulse of gratitude ; " I fear he will not 
trouble you long. He must be monstrous rich. Arrived in a ves- 
sel hired all to himself, and a (rain of outlandish attendants, whom 
he has left behind in the town yonder ! May 1 bait my horses in 
your stables'? They have come a long way." 

1 pointed to the neighboring stables, aud the man nodded his 
thanks, remounted his box, and drove off. 

I returned to Margrave. A faint smile came to his lips as I 
placed the chest beside him. 

"Ay, ay!" he muttered. "Safe, safe! 1 shall soon be well 
again — very soon ! And now I can sleep in peace !" 

lied him into an inner room, in which there was a beu. Ete 
threw himself on it with a loud sigh of relief. Soon, half raising 
himself on his elbow, he exclaimed, "The chest — bring it hither! 
I need it- always beside me ! There, there ! Now a few hours of 
sleep ; and then, if I can take food, or some such restoring cordial 
as your skill may sugg st, 1 shall be strong enough to nil!;. We 
will talk!— we will talk!" 

His eyes closed heavily as his voice fell into a drowsy mutter. 
A moment more and he was asleep. 

1 watched beside him in mingled' wonder and compassion. 
Looking into that face so altered, yet still so young, I could not 
sternly question what had b .-en the evil of that mystic life, which 
seemed now oo'/ing away through the. last sands in the hour-glass. 
I placed my hand softly on his pulse: it scarcely beat. 1 put my 
ear to his breasti and involuntarily sighed as I distinguished iu its 
fluttering heave that dull, dumb sound in which the heart seems 
kiu-lling itself to the greedy grave ! , 

Was ibis indeed the potcii magician whom I bad so feared 1 
This the guide to the Rosicruoian's secret of life's renewal, in whom 
but an hour or two ago my fancies gulled my credulous trust .' 

But suddenly, even while thus chiding my wild superstitions, — 
a fear that to most will seem scarcely less superstitious, shol 
across me. Could Lilian be affected by the near neighborhood 
of one to whose magnetic influence she had once been so strangely 
subjected] 1 lefl .Margrave still sleeping, closed and locked the 
door of the hut, wenl back to my dwelling, and met Amy al the 
threshold. IKr smile .was so cheering that 1 fell at once re- 
lieved. 

"Hush!" said the child, putting her linger to berlips, '.'she 
is so quiet! 1 was coming in search of you, with a message 
from her." 

" from Lilian to me — what ! to me '." 

" Hush! About an hour ago she beckoned me to draw mar 
to her, and then said, very softly, "Tell Allen thai light is 



316 A STRANGE STORY. 

coming back to me, and it all settles on him — on him. Tell 
him that I pray to be spared to walk by his side on earth, hand- 
in-hand to that heaven which is no dream, Amy. Tell him that ;' 
— no dream. 5 " * 

. While the child spoke my tears gushed, and the strong hands 
in which I veiled my face quivered like the leaf of the aspen. 
And when I could command my voice, I said plaintively, 

"May I not, then, see her? — only for a moment, and answer 
her message, though but by a look 1 " . 

"No, no!" 

"No! Where is Faber ? " 

" Gone into the forest, in search of some herbs, but he gave 
me this note for you." 

I wiped the blinding tears from 'my eyes, and read these lines : 

*' I have, though with hesitation, permitted Amy to tell you 
the cheering words, by which our beloved patient confirms my 
belief that reason is coming back to her — slowly, laboringly, but, 
if she survive, for permanent restoration. On no account at- 
tempt to precipitate or disturb the work of Nature. As dan- 
gerous as a sudden glare of light to eyes long blind and newly 
regaining vision, in the friendly and soothing dark, — would be 
the agitation that your presence at this crisis would cause. — 
Confide in me." 

I remained brooding over these lines and ovei Lilian's mes- 
sage, long and silently; while Amy's soothing whispers stole into 
ar, soft as the murmurs of a rill heard in the gloom of forests. 
Rousing myself at length, my thoughts returned to Margrave.-r- 
Doubtless he would st on awake. I bade Amy bring me such" 
slight nutriment as I thought best suited to his enfeebled state, 
telling her it was for a sick traveler resting himself in my hut. — 
When Amy returned, I took from her the little basket with which 
she was charged, and having, meanwhile, made a careful selec- 
from the contents of my medicine chest, went back to the hut. 
I had not long resumed my place beside Margrave's pillow before 
• he awoke. . ' 

" What o'clock is it ?" he asked, with an anxious voice. 

" About seven." 

" Not later ? That is well ; my time is precious." 

" Compose yourself, and eat." 

• I placed the food before him, and he partook of it, though spa- 
ringly, and as if with effort, He then dozed for a short time, 
again woke up, and impatiently demanded the cordial, which I had 
pre, ared in the meanwhile. Its effect was greater and more im- 
mediate than I could have anticipated,' proving, perhaps, how 
much of youth there was still left in his sysem, however under- 
mined and ravaged by disease. Color came back to his cheek, his 
voice grew perceptibly stronger. And as I lighted the lamp on 



A STRANGE STOEY. 817 

the table near us — for it was growing dark — he gathered himself 
up, and spoke thus : 

"You remember that I once pressed on you certain experi- 
ments. My object then was to discover the materials from which 
is extracted the specific that enables the organs of life to expel 
disease and regain vigor. In that hope I sought your intimacy. 
An intimacy you gave, but withdrew." 

"Dare you complain '. Who and what was the being from 
Whose intimacy I shrunk appalled I " 

"Ask what questions you please," cried Margrave, impatiently, 
"later, — if I have strength left to answer them. But do not in- 
terrupt me while 1 husband my force to say what alone is impor- 
tant in me and to you. Disappointed in the hopes I had placed 
in you, I resolved to repair to Paris, — that great furnace of all 
bold ideas. [ questioned learned formalists ; I listened to auda- 
cious empirics. The first, with all their boasted knowledge, were 
too timid to concede my premises; the second, with all their\spec- 
ulative daring, too knavish to let me trust to their conclusions. I 
found but one man; a Sicilian, who comprehended the secrets 
are called occult, and had the courage to meet Nature and all her 
agencies face to face. He believed, and sincerely, that he was 
approaching the grand result, at the very moment when he per- 
ished from want of I uions which a tyro in chem- 

would have taken. At his death the gaudy 
hateful ; all its pretended pleasures only served to exhaust life 
aster. The I luth are those of the wild bird 

and wild brute in the healthful enjoyment If Nature, in oi 
youth is but old age with 'a varnish. I tied to the East ; 1 passed 
through the tents of the Arabs; I was guided — no matter i>\ 
whom or by what — to the house of a Dervish, who had had he,; his 
teacher the most erudite, master of si uli, whom I 

years ago at Aleppo — why thai, exclamation ?" 

"Proceed. What 1 have to say will come — later." 

"Prom this Dervish I half-forced and half-purchased the s 
1 sought to obtain. 1 now know from what peculiar substance 
'led elixir of life is extracted; I know also the 
ie process through which that task is accomplished. You 
smile increduleusiyf What, is your doubt? State it while 1 
rest for a moment. My breath labors; give me more vi' the 
cordial." 

" Need i tell you my doubt .' You have, you say, at your i 
mand the elixir of life of which Oaglipstro did not leave" his 
pies the recipe; and you stretch out your hand for a vulgar cordial 
which any village chemist could give you ! " 

"I can explain this apparent contradiction. The process by 
which the elixir is extracted from the material which hoards its 
essence is one that requires a hardihood of courage which few 
p«M«s«. Tlwe D«rvi«U, wb« ksd pas*«d through that pJooess 



318 A STRANGE STORY. 

once, was deaf to all prayer, and unmoved by all bribes, to attempt 
it again. He was poor, for the secret by which metals may be 
transmuted is not, as the old alchemists seem to imply, identical 
with that by which the elixir of life is extracted. He had only 
been enabled to discover, in the niggard strata of the lands within 
range of his travel, a few scanty morsels of the glorious substance. 
From these he hacl extracted scarcely enough of the elixir to .fill a 
third of that little glass which I have just drained. He guarded 
every drop for himself. W^io that holds healthful life as the one 
boon above all price to the living, would waste upon others what 
prolongs and recruits his own being? Therefore, though he sold 
me his secret he would not sell me his treasure." 

" Any quack may sell you the information how to make not only 
an elixir, but a sun and a moon, and then scare you from the exper- 
iment I iy tales of the danger of trying it! How do you know 
that this essence which the Dervish possessed was the elixir of 
life, since it 'seems you have not tried on yourself what effect its 
precious drops' could produce? Poor wretch ! who oncu seemed 
in me so awfully potent, do you come to the Antipodes in search 
of a drwj; that only exists in the fables by which a child is 
amused :' " 

"The elixir of life is no fable," cried Margrave, with a kindling 
of eye, a power of voice, a dilation of form that startled me in one 
just* before so feeble. " That elixir was bright in my veins when 
we last met. From that golden draught of the life-spring of joy 
I took all that can gladden creation. What age would not have 
exchanged his wearisome knowledge for my lusty revels with Na- 
ture? What monarcn would not have bartered his crown, with its 
brain-ache of care, for the radiance that circled my brows flash- 
ing out. from the light that was in mel Oh again, oh again, to 
enjoy the freedom of air* with the bird, and the glow of the sun 
with the lizard ; to sport through the blooms of the earth, Na- 
1 ure's playmate and darling; to face, in the forest and desert, the 
leopard and. the lion — Nature's bravest and fiercest, — her first-born, 
the heir of her realm, with the rest of her children for slaves! " ' 
As these words burst from his lips there was a wild grandeur 
in the aspect of this enigmatical being which I had never beheld 
in the former time of his affluent, dazzling youth. And indeed in 
his language, and in the thoughts it clothed, there was an earnest- 
ness, a concentration, a directness, a purpose, which had seemed 
wanting to his desultory talk in the earlier days. I expected that 
reaction of languor and exhaustion would follow his vehement 
outbreak of passion ; but after a short pause he went on with 
steady accents. His will was sustaining his strength. He was 
determined to force his convictions on me, and the vitality, once 
so rich, rallied all its lingering forces to the aid of his intense 
desire. 

"I tell you, then," he resumed, with deliberate calmness, " that, 



A STRANGE STORY. 319 

years ago, I tested in my own person that essence which is the 
sovereign medicament. In me, as you saw me at L , you he- 
held the proof of its virtues. Feeble aud ill as I am now, my 
state was incalculably more hopeless when formerly restored by 
Hie elixir. He from whom 1 then took the sublime restorative, 
died without revealing the secret of its composition. What I ob- 
tained was only just sufficient to recruit the lamp of my life, then 
dying down — and no drop was left for renewing the light which 
wastes its own rays in the air that it gilds. Though the Dervish 
would not sell me his treasure, he permitted me to see it. The 
appearance and odor of this essence are strangely peculiar — un- 
mistakable by one who has once beheld and partaken of it. In 
, short, I recognized in the hands of the Dervish, the bright life- 
renewer, as .1 had borne it away from the corpse of the .Sage of 
Aleppo." / 

" Hold ! Are you then in truth tl>e murderer of Haroun, and is 
your true name Louis Grayle I " 

"I am no murderer, and Louis Grayle did not leave me his 
,name. 1 again adjure yon to postpone, for this night at least, the 
questions you wish to address to me. 

" Seeing that this obstinate pauper possessed that for which the 
pale owners of millions, at the first touch of palsy or gout, would 
consent to be paupers, of course I coveted*the possession of the 
essence even more than the knowledge of the substance from which 
it. is extracted. 1 had no coward fear of the experiment, which 
This timid driveller had not the nervy to renew. Hut still the ex- 
periment might fail. I must traverse land and sea to find the tit 
place for it. While in the rags of the Dervish, the unfailing re- 
sult of the experiment was at hand. The Dervish suspected my 
design — he dreaded my power, lie fled on the very night in which 
I had meant to seize what he refused to sell me. After all, I 
should have done him no great wrong; for I should have left him 
wealth enough to transport himself to any soil in which the 
material tor the elixir may he most abundant, and the desire of life 
Would have giveo his shrinking nerves the courage to replenish its 
ravished store. I had Arabs in my pay, who obeyed me as hounds 
their master. 1 chased the fugitive. 1 came on his track", reached 
a bouse in a miserable village, in which, 1 was told, he had entered 
but an hour before. The day was declining: the light in the 
room imperfect. I saw in a corner what seemed to me the form of 
the Dervish — stooped to seize it, and my hand closed on an asp. 
The artful Dervish had so piled his rags that they took the shape 
of the form they had clothed, and he had left, as a substitute for 
iver of life, the venomous reptile of death. 

"The strength of my sys em enabled me to survive the effeot 
of the poison ; but during the torpor thai numbed me, my Arabs, 

alarmed, gave no chase to my quarry. At last, though enfeeblefi 

and languid. I was again en my horse; again the pursuit — again 



320 A STRANGS STORY. 

g 

the track ! I learned — but this time by a knowledge surer than 
man's — that the Dervish had taken his refuge in a hamlet that had 
sprung up over the site of a city ..once famed through Assyria. 
The same voice that informed me of his . whereabouts warned me 
not to pursue. I rejected the warning. In my eager impatience I 
sprang on to the chase ; in my fearless resolve I felt sure of the 
prey. I arrived at the hamlet wearied out, for my forces were no 
longer the same since the bite of the asp. The Dervish eluded me 
still : he had left the floors, on which I sank exhausted, but a few 
minutes before my horse stopped at the door, The carpet on 
which lie had rested still lay on the ground. I dismissed the 
youngest and keenest of my troop in search of the fugitive. Sure 
that this time he would not escape, my eyes closed in sleep. 

" How long I slept I know not — a long dream of solitude, fever 
and anguish. Was it the curse ot the Dervish's carpet? W'as. it 
a taint in the walls of the house, or of the air, which broods sickly 
and rank over places where cities lie buried? I know not; but 
the Pest of the East had seized me in slumber. When my senses^ 
recovered 1 found myself alone, plundered of ray aims, despoiled 
of such gold as 1 had carried about me. All had deserted, "and 

ie, as the living leave the dead whom the Plague has claimed 

for its own. . . as I could, stand I cr&wled from the thres- 

ipment my voice was heard, my face seen, tin.' whole 

ace rose as on a wild beast — a mad dog. I was 

ice with imprecations and stones, as a miscreant 

whom the Plague had overtaken, while plotting the death of a 

holy man. Bruised "and bleeding, but still defying, I turned in 

wrath on that 'dastardly rabble; they slunk away from my path. 

I knew the land for miles around. 1 had been in that land years, 

.ears, ago. I came at last to the roads which the caravans 
take <m their way to Damascus. There I was found, speechless 
and seemingly lifeless, by some European travelers. Conveyed to 
Damascus, 1 languished for weeks between life and death. But 
that essence, which lingered yet in my veins, I 
could not have survived — even thus feeble and shattered. I need 
not say that, I now abandoned all thought of discovering the 
Dervish. I had at least his secret, if 1 had failed of the paltry 
supply be, had drawn from its uses. Such appliances as he had 
told me were needful are procured in the East with more ease than 
in Europe. To sum up, 1 am here — instructed in all the knowl- 
edge, and supplied with all the aids, which warrant me in saying, 
' Do you care for new-life in its richest enjoyments, if not for your 
self, for one whom you love, and would reprieve from the grave V 
Then share with me in a task that a single night will accomplish, 
and ravish a prize by which the life that you value the most will 
be saved from the dust and the worm, to live on, ever young, ever 
blooming, while each infant — new-born while I speak — shall have 



A STRAMOK STORY. Stfl 

passed to the grave. Nay, where is the limit to life whil 
earth hides the substance by which life is renewed V 

I give as faithfully as I can recall them, the words in which 
Margrave addresssd me. But who can guess by cold v 
transcribed, even were I hey artfully ranged by a master of lan- 
guage!, the effect words produce when warm from the breath of 
the speaker ? Ask one of an audience which some orator held en- 
thralled, why his words do not quicken a beat in the reader's 
pulse, and the answer of one who had listened will be. " 
words took their charm from the voice and the eye, the aspect;, the 
manner, the man !" So it was with the incomprehensible being 
before me. Though his youth was faded, though his beauty was 
dimmed, though my fancies clothed him with memories of abhor- 
rent Bread, though my reason opposed his audacious beliefs and 
assumptions, still he charmed and spell-bound me; still he was 
the mystical Fascinator; still, if the legends of magic had truth 
for their basis, he was the born magician; as genius, in what call- 
ing soever, is born with the gifl to enchant and subdue i 

Constraining myself to answer calmly, T said, "You have 
told me your story ; you have defined the object of lie experiment 
in which you ask me to aid. You do right to bid me postpone my 
replies or my questions. Seek to recruit by sleep the strength 

you have so sorely tasked. To-morrow " 

"To-morrow, ere night, you will decide whether the man whom 
ou I of all earth 1 have selected to aid me, shall be the foe to con- 
demn me to perish ! 1 tell yon -plainly T need your aid, and your 
prompt aid. Three days from this and all aid will be too late ! " 

1 had already gained the door of the room, when he called to 
me to come back. 

" You do not live in this hut, but with your family yonder. Do 
not tell them that 1 am here ; let no one but yourself see me as I 
now am. Lock the door of the hut when yon quit it. I should 
nol close ,:■ eyes if I were not secure from intruders." 

"There is but one in my house, or in these parts, whom T would 
except from the interdict you impose. You are aware of your own 
imminent danger; the life which you believe the discovery of a 
Dervish will indefinitely prolong seems to my eye of physician to 
hang on a thread. I have already formed my own conjecture 
to the nature of the disease that, enfeebles you. But I would fain 
compare that conjecture with the weightier opinion of one whose 
experience and skill arc superior to mine. Permit me, then, 'when 
I return to you to-morrow, to bring with me the great physician to 
whom 1 id. r. His name will not, perhaps, be unknown to you. 
I speak of Julius Faber." 

u of the schools! I can guess well enough how 

sdly he would prate and how little he could do. But I will 

not object to his visit, if it satisfies you that, since I should die 

uuder the hands of the doctors, I may be permitted to indulge 

21 



322 A STRANOB STORY. 

my own whim in placing my hopes in a Dervish. Yet stay. You 
have, doubtless, spoken of me to this Julius Faber, your fellow 
physician and friend 1 Promise me, if you bring him here, 
that you will not name me, that you will not repeat to him the 
tale I have told you, or the hope which has led me to these shores. 
What I have told to you, no matter whether at this moment you 
consider me the dupe of a chimera, is still under the seal of the 
confidence which a patient reposes in the physician he himself 
selects for his confidant. I select you, and not Julius Faber !" 

" Be it as you will," said I after a moment's reflection. " The 
moment you make yourself my patient I am bound to consider 
what is best for you. And you may more respect and profit by an 
opinion based upon your purely physical condition than by tone in 
which you might suppose the advice was directed rather to the 
disease of the mind than to that of the body." 

" How amazed and indignant your brother physician will be if 
he ever see me a second time ! How learnedly he will prove that, 
according to all correct principles of science and nature, I ought 
to be dead !" 

He uttered this jest with a faint, dreary echo of his old merry, 
melodious laugh, then turned his face to the wall ; and so I left 
him to repose. 

* 



CHAPTER LXXV. 

I found Mrs. Ashleigh waiting for me in our usual sitting-room. 
She was in tears. She had begun to despond of Lilian's recovery, 
and she infected me with her own alarm. However, I disguised 
my participation in her fears, soothed and sustained her as I best 
could, and persuaded her to retire to rest. I saw Faber for a few 
minutes before I sought my own chamber. He assured me that 
there was .no perceptible change for the worse in Lilian's physical 
state since he had last seen me, and that her mind, even within the 
last few hours, had become decidedly more clear. He thought that 
within the next twenty-four hours the reason would make a strong 
and successful effort for complete recovery; but he declined to, 
hazard more than a hope that the effort would not exhaust the en-' 
feebled powers of the frame. He himself was so in need of a few 
hours of rest that I ceased to harrass him with questions which he 
could not answer, and fears which he could not appease. Before 
leaving him for the night, I told him briefly that there was a 
traveler in my hut smitten by a disease that seemed to me so grave 
that I would ask his opinion of the case, if he could accompany me , 
to the hut the next morning. 



A STRANGE STORY. 323 

My own thoughts that night were not such as would suffer me to 
sleep. 

Before Margrave's melancholy state much of my former fear 
and abhorrence faded away. This being, so exceptional that fancy 
might well invest him with preternatural attributes, w'as now re- 
duced by human suffering to human sympathy and comprehension. 
Yet his utter want of conscience was still as apparent as in his 
day of joyous animal spirits. With what hideous candor he had 
related his periidity and ingratitude to the man to whom, in his 
belief, he owed an inestimable obligation, find with what, insensi- 
bility to the signal retribation which in must natures would have, 
awakened remorse ! 

And by what dark hints and confessions did he seem to confirm 
the incredible memoir of Sir Philip Derval ! He owned that be 
had borne from the corpse of Haroun the medicament to which he 
ascribed his recovery from a state yet. more hopeless than that 
under which be now labored ! He had alluded rapidly, obscurely, 
to some knowledge at his command " surer than man's!" vnd 
now, even now, the mere wreck of his former existence, by what 
strange charm did be still control and confuse my reason! And 
how was it that I felt myself murmuring, again and again. "But 
what, after all, if bis nope be no chimera, and if Nature do hide a 
secret by which I could save the life of my beloved Lilian I " 

And again and again, as that thought would force, itself on me, 
I rose and c Kept to Lilian's threshold, listening to catch the faintest 
sound of her breathing. All still, all dark ! and the 
physician doubts whether recognized science can turn aside from 
her couch the slealtby tread of death, while in yon log-hut 
whose malady recognized science could net doubt to be mortal has 
composed himself to sleep confident of life ! Recognized science! 
recognized ignorance ! The science of to-day is the ignorance of 
to-morrow !* Every year some bold guess lights up a. truth to 
which but the year before the school-men of science were as blinded 
as moles. 

" What then," my lips kept repeating — "what if Nature do hide 
a secret by which the life of my life can be saved 1 What do we 
know of tlie secrets of Nature? What said Newton himself of his 
knowledge ? • 1 am like a child picking up pebbles and shells on 
the sand, while the great ocean of Truth lies all undiscovered 
around me ! ' And did Newtou himself, in the ripest growth of his 
matchless intellect, hold the creed of the alchemists in scorn i Had 
he not given to one object of their research, in the transmutation of 
s and his nights ? Is there proof that he ever con- 
vinced himself that, the research was the dream which we, who are 
not Newtons, call it ?* And that other great sage, inferior only to 

* •' Besides tke three great subjects of Newton's labors — the fluxional cal- 
culus, physical astronomy, and optics - a very large portion of his time, while 
resident iu hi* college, was dvvoted t« rcxeurthe* of wuifk etarcely a trace 



324 A STRAIVGH STORY. 

'Newton — the calculating dpubt^weigher, Descartes — had he not' 
believed in the yet nobler hope of the alchemists — believed in some 
occult nostrum or process by which human life could attain to the 
age of the Patriarchs ?"* 

remains. Alchemy, which had fasi i many eager and ambitious minds, 

seems to have tempted Newton with an overwhelming force. What theories 
he formed, what experiments he tried, in that laboratory where, it is said, the ; 
fire was scarcely extinguished for weeks together, will never be known. It 
is certain that no success attended his labors ; and Newton was not a man — 
like Kepler— to detail t$ the world all the hopes and disappointments, all the 
crude and mystical fancies, which mixed themselves^ up with his career of 

philosophy Many years -later we find Newton in correspondence with 

Locke, with reference to a mysterious red earth by which Bt>yle, who was 
then recently dead, had asserted that he could effect the grand desideratum 
of multiplying gold. By this time, however, Newton's faith had become some- 
what shaken by the unsatisfactory communications which he bad himself 
received from Boyle on the subject of the golden recipe, though be did not 
abandon the idea of giving the experiment a further trial as soon as the weather 
should become suitable for furnace experiments." — Quarterly Review, No. 
•220, pp. 125-6. 

* Southey, iu his Doctor, vol. vi, p. 2, reports the conversation df Sir Kenelm 
Djgby with Descartes, in which the great geometrician said./" That as fori 

ring men immortal, it was what lie could not venture to promise, but 
that he was very sure he could prolong hie life to the standard of the patri- 
archs." And Southey adds, "that St. Evremond, to whom Digby repeated 
this, says that this opinion of Descartes was well known both to his friends in 
Holland and in France." By the stress Southey lays on this hearsay evi- 

, it is clear that he was not acquainted with the works and biography of 

Descartes, or be would have gone to the fountain-head for authority on Des- 

opinions — namely, Descartes himself. It is to be wished that Southey 

no one more than he would have appreciated the exquisitely 

candid and livable nature of the illustrious Frenchman, and the since! ity with 

be cherished in his heart whatever doctrine he conceived in his uuder- 

Descartes, whose knowledge of anatomy was considerable, had that 

passion for the art of medicine which is almost inseparable from the pursuit 

of natural philosophy. At the age of twenty-four be had sought (in Germany) 

to obtain initiation into the brotherhood of the Kosicruciansj, but, unluekilyj 

could not discover any member of the society to introduce him. "He de- 

Bired," says Cousin, " to assure the health of mar., diminish bis ills, extend his 

existent,- He was terified by the rapid and almost momentary passage of 

man upon earth. He believed.it was not. perhaps, impossible to prolong its 

duration. " There is a bidden recess of grandeur in this idea, and the means 

proposed by Descartes for the execution of his project were not less grand. In 

his Discourse on Method, Descartes says, "If it is possible to find some 

means to render generally men more wise' and more able than they have been 

till now, it is, I believe, in medicine that those means must be sought I 

am sure that there is no one, even in the medical profession, who will not avow 
that all which one knows of the medical art is almost nothing in comparison 
to that which remains to learn, and that one could be exempted from an in- 
finity of maladies, both of body and mind, and even, perhaps, from the decrepi- 
tude of old age, if one had sufficient lore of their causes and of all the reme- 
dies which nature provides for them. Therefore, having design to employ all 
my life in the research of a science so necessary, and having discovered a path 
which appears to me such that one ought ivfullably, in folloicing , to find it. if one 
is not hindered prematurely by the brevity of life or by the defects of experi- 
ence, I consider that there is no better remedy against those two hindrances 
than to communicate faithfully to the public the little I have found," etc. 
(lDw?»w* 4s k Metb«d», vol. i. CSuvreg in Demjarto*, Cousin's edition.) 



A STRA.NUB STORY. 325 

Iii thoughts like these the night wore away, the moonbeams 
that streamed through my window'lighting up" the spacious soli- 
tudes ^eyond— mead and creek, forest land, mountain top— and 
the silence without broken by the wild cry of the night-hawk and 
the sibilant melancholy dirge of the shining chrvsoeocvx ■* bird 
that never sings but at night, and obstinately haunts the roots of 
the Mek and dying, ominous of woe and death. 

But up sprang the sun, and, chasing these gloomy sounds, put 
hurst the wonderful chorus of Australian groves, the great king- 
fisher opening the jocund melodious babble, with the glee of his 
social laugh. 

And now I heard Faber's step in Lilian's room— heard, through 
the door, her soft voice, though I could not distinguish the words. 
Jtwas not long before I sawthe kind physician standing at 
threshold ol my chamber. lie pressed his finger to his 'lip. 
made me a sign to follow him. 1 obeyed, with noiseless (read and 
stilled breathing. lie wailed me in the garden - under the flower- 
ing acacias, passed his arm in mine, and drew me into the open 
past ure-land. 

" l ourself," he then said; "I bring you tidings both 
of gladness and of fear. Your Lilian's mind is restored : even the 
memories which had been swept away by the fever that followed 
her return to her home in L are returning, though as yet in- 
distinct. She yearns to see you, to bless you for all your noble 
devotion, your generous, great-hearted love;' but I forbid such in- 
terview now. If in a few hours she .become either decidedly 
stronger or decidedly more enfeebled, you shall be summoned to 
her side. Even if you are condemned to a loss for which the sole 
"onsolalion nmst.be placed in the life hereafter, you shall have at - 

And again, in his Correspondence (vol. is, p. 341), he savs, " The conserva- 
tor i of health has been always the principal object of my studies, and I hove 
po doubt that there is a means of acquiring much knowledge touching medi- 
cine which, up to this time, is ignored." He then refers to his meditated 

e on Animals as onl) an entrance upon that knowledge But whatever 

Descartes may have thought to discover, they are not made known to 

the public according to Lis promise. And in :i letter to M. Chaout, written 

four years before he died), he says ingeniously, " I will tell you in con- 

Sdetue that the notion, such as it is, which 1 have endeavored to acquire in 

I philosophy, has greatly a, isted to establish certain foundations 

ior moral philosophy; am! thai I am more easily satisfied upon this point than 
many others touching medicine, to which T have, nevertheless de- 

mch more time. So thai" (adds the grand thinker with a pathetic 
idleness .)— " so that, instead of finding the means to preserve Ufa, I have found 
luotht r good, mort easy and more sun, which is— not to /"<«r death" 

cyx lijcidus— namely, the bird popularly called ; or 

Died cuckoo. Its note is an exceedingly melancholy wl rd at 

rt » wl ". 1 ick or nervous person who „,av b< 

p. I have known many instances where the bird! ■,-!,. 

in the vicinity of the room of an invalid uttering it. mournful 
only with the greatest difficult] that it could bedisloi 
■> position. -Dr. Bennett's Gatherings of a Naturalist in Austral 



326 A STRANOE STORY. 

least the last mortal commune of soul with soul. Courage — 
courage ! You are man ! Bear as man what you have so often 
bid other men submit to endure." » 

I had flung myself on the ground — writhing worm that had no 
home but on earth ! Man, indeed ! Man ! All at that moment I 
took from manhood was its acute sensibility to love and to anguish ! 

But after all such paroxysms of mortal pain there comes a 
strange lull. Thought itself halts, like the still hush of water 
between two descending torrents. I rose in a calm, which Faber 
might welj mistake for fortitude. 

"Well," I said, quietly, "fulfil your promise. If Lilian is to 
pass away from me, I shall see her, at least again ; no wall, you 
tell me, between our minds : mind to mind once more — once 
more ! ' ' 

" Allen," said Faber, mournfully and softly, " why do you 
shun to repeat my words — soul to soul ?" 

" Ay, ay — I understand. Those words mean that you have 
resigned all hope that Lilian's life will linger here when .her mind 
comes back in full consciousness. I know well that last lightning 
flash and the darkness which swallows it up !" 

" You exaggerate my fears. I have not resigned the hope that 
Lilian will survive the struggle through which she is passing ; 
but it would be cruel to deceive you — my hope is weaker than it 
was." 

" Ay, ay — again I understand ! Your science is in fault — it 
desponds. Its last trust is in the wonderful resources of Nature 
— the vitality stored in the young ?" 

" You have said. Those resources of nature arc wondrous. — 
The vitality of youth is a fountain springing up from the deeps 
out of sight, when, a moment before, we had measured the drops 
oozing out from the sands, and thought that the well was ex- 
hausted." 

" Come with me — come. I told you. of another sufferer yon- 
der. I want your opinion of his case. But can you be spared a 
few minutes from Lilian's side V 

" Yes ; I left her asleep. What is the case that perplexes your 
eye of physician, which is usually keener than mine, despite all 
the length of my practice ?" 

" The sufferer is young — his organization rare in its vigor. He 
has gone through and survived assaults upon life that are 'com- 
monly fatal. His system has been poisoned by the fangs of a 
venomous asp, and shattered by the blast of the plague. These 
alone, I believe, would not suffice to destroy him. But he is one 
who has a strong dread of death. And while the heart was thus 
languid and feeble, it has been gnawed by emotions of hope or of 
fear. I suspect that he is dying, not from the bite of the reptile, 
uot from the taint of the pestilence, but from the hope and the 



A STRANGE STORY. 327 

fear that have overtasked the heart's functions. Judge for your- 
self." 

We were now at the door of the hut. I unlocked it : we en- 
tered. Margrave had quitted his bed, and was pacing the room 
slowiy. His step was less feeble, his countenance less haggard 
than on the previous evening. 

He submitted himself to Faber's questioning with a quiet in- 
difference, and evidently cared nothing for any opinion which the 
great physician might found on his replies. 

When Faber had learned all he gould, he said, with a grave 
smile, " I see that my advice will have little weight with you ; 
such as it is, at least reflect on it. The conclusions to which your 
host arrived in his view of your case, and which he confided to 
me, are, in my humble judgment, correct. I have no doubt that 
the great organ of the heart is involved in the cause of your suf- 
ferings ; but the heart is a noble and much-enduring organ. I 
have known men in whom it has been more severely and unequiv- 
ocally affected with disease than it is in you, live on for many 
years, and ultimately die of some other disorder. But then life 
was held, as yours must be held, upon one condition — repose. I 
enjoin you to abstain from all violent action ; to shun all excite- 
ments that cause moral disturbance. You are young : would you 
live on, you must live as the old. More than this — it is my duty 
to warn you that your tenure on earth is very precarious ; you 
may attain to many years ; you may be suddenly called hence to- 
morrow. The best mode to regard this uncertainty, with tin- ca! 
in which, is your only chance of long life, is so to arrange all your 
worldly affairs, and so to discipline all your human anxieties, as to 
feel always prepared for the summons that may come without 
warning. For the rest, quit this climate as soon as you can — it. 
is the climate in which the blood courses too quickly for one who 
should shun all excitement. Seek the most equable atmosphere — 
choose the most tranquil pursuits — and Fenwick himself, in his 
magnificent pride of stature and strength, may be nearer the 
grave than you are." 

" Your opinion coincides witli that I have just heard?" asked 
Margrave, turning to me. 

" Ln much — yes."' 

" It is more favorable than I should have supposed. I am far 
from disdaining the advice so kindly offered. Permit me, in turn, 
two or three questions, Dr. Faber. Do you prescribe to me no 
drugs from your pharmacopoeia ?" 

" Drugs may palliate many sufferings incidental to organic dis- 
ease ; but drugs cannot reach organic disease itself." 

"Do you believe that, even where disease is plainly organic, 
Nature lie. self has no alterative and reparative powers by which 
the organ assailed may recover itself?" 

" A few exceptional instances of such forces in nature are upon 



328 A STRANGE STORY. 

record ; but we must go by general laws, arid not by exceptions." 

" Have you never known instances, do you not at this moment 
know one, in which a patient whose malady harries the doctor's 
skill, imagines or dreams of a remedy? Call it a whim, if you 
please, learned sir; do you not listen to the whim, and, in des- 
pair of your own prescriptions, complv with those of the pa- 
tient?" 

Faber changed countenance, and even started. Margrave 
watched him, and laughed. 

" You grant that there are such cases, in which the patient gives 
the law to the physician. Now apply your experience to my case. 
Suppose some strange fancy had seized upon my imagination — 
that is the doctor's cant word for all phenomena that we call ex- 
ceptional — some strange fancy, that I had thought of a cure for 
this disease for which you have no drugs; and suppose this fancy 
of mine to be so strong, so vivid, that to deny me its gratification 
would produce the very emotion from which you warn me as fa- 
tal — storm tbe heart that you would soothe to repose by the pas- 
sions of rage and despair — would you, as my trusted physician, 
concede or deny me my whim 1" 

" Can you ask ? I should grant it at once, if 1 had no reason 
to know thai the thing which you fancied was harmful." 

•• Good man and wise doctor. 1 have no other question to ask. 
1 thank you." 

Faber looked hard on the young wan face, over which played a 
smile of triumph and irony ; then turned away with an expression 
of doubt and trouble on his own noble countenance. I followed 
him silently into the open air. 

" "Who and what is this victor of yours?" he asked, abruptly. 

" Who and what ! I cannot tell you." 

Faber remained some moments musing, and muttering slowly to 
himself. " Tut, but a chance coincidence — a bap-hazard allusion 
to a fact which he could not have known !" 

•' Faber," said I, abruptly, " can it he that Lilian is the patient 
in whose self-suggested remedies you confide more than in the 
various learning at command of your practised skill ?" 

" I cannot deny it," replied Faber, reluctantly. " In the inter- 
vals of that suspense from waking sense, which in her is not 
sleep, nor yet altogether catalepsy, she has, for the last few days, 
stated accurately the precise moment in which the trance — if I 
may so call it — would pass away, and prescribed for herself the 
remedies that should be then administered. In every instance the 
remedies so self-prescribed, though certainly not those whjch 
would have occurred to my mind, have proved efficacious. Her 
rapid progress to reason I ascribe to the treatment she herself or- 
dained in her trance, without remembrance of her own sugges- 
tions when she awoke. I had meant to defer communicating ihese 
phenomena in tbe idiosyncrasy of her case until our minds could 



A STRANGE STORY. 329 

more calmly inquire into tlie process by which ideas — not appa- 
rently derived as your metaphysical school would derive all ideas, 
from pre-conceived experiences — will thus sometimes acl like an 
instinct on the human sufferer, lor self-preservation, as the bird is 
directed to the herb or the berry which heals or assuages its ail- 
ments. We know how the mesmerists would account for this 
phenomenon of hygienic introvisio.fi and clairvoyance. But here 
there is no mesmerizer, unless the patient can he supposed to mes- 
merize herself. Long, however, before mesmerism was heard of. 
medical history aitests examples in which patients who baffled the 
skill of the ablest physicians have fixed their fancies on some rem- 
edy that physicians would cull inoperative for good or for harm, 
and have recovered by the remedies thus singularly 8elf J 8Uggested. 
Ami Hippocrates himself, if I construe his meaning rightly, re- 
cognizes the powers for self-cure which the condition of fc] 
will sometimes bestow on the sufferer, ' where' (says the father of 
our art), 'ihe sight being closed to the external, the soul more 
truthfully perceives the affections of the body.' In short — I own 
it — in this instance, the skill of the physician has been a compli- 
ant obedience to the instinct called forth in the patient. And the 
hopes 1 have hitherto permitted myself to give you were founded 

ly experience that her own ived in trance, had 

never been fallacious or exaggerated. The simples that 1 gath- 
ered for her yesterday she had desei -y are not, in our 
herbal. Hut as they are sometimes used by the natives, I had the 
curiosity to analyze their chemical properties shortly after I came 
to ihe colony, and they seemed tome as innocent as lime-blossoms. 
They are rare in this part of Australia, but she told me where I 
should find them — a remote spot which she has certainly never 
visited. Last night, when you saw me disturbed, dejected, if was 
for'the first time the docility with which she had hitherto, 
in her waking state, obeyed her own injunctions in the state of 
trance, forsook me. She could not be induced to taste the decoc- 
tion I had made from the herbs; and if you found me this morn- 
ing with weaker hopes than before, this is ihe real cause — namely. 
that when 1 visited her at sunrise, she was D61 in sleep, but in 
trance, and in that- trance she told me that she had nothing more 
t.i suggest or reveal; that on the complete restoration of her 

ss, which was at hand, the abnormal faculties vouchsafed to 
trance would be withdrawn. 'As for my life,' she said, quietly, 
as if unconscious of our temporary joy or woe in the term of its 
tenure here — ' as for my life, your aid is now idle ; my own vision 
obscure ; on my life a dark and cold shadow is resting. I cannot 
foresee if ii will pass away. When 1 strive to look around, i see 

but my Allen " 

"And so," said I, mastering my emotions, "in bidding me 
hope, you did not rely on your own resources of science, but on 
lisper of .Nature in the brain of your patient V 



330 A STRANGE STORY. 

" It is so." 

We both remained silent some moments, and then, as he disap- 
peared within my house, 1 murmured: 

" And when she strives to look beyond the shadow she sees only 
me ! Is there some prophet-hint of Nature there also, directing 
me not to scorn the secret which a wanderer, so suddenly dropped 
on my solitude, assures me that Nature will sometimes reveal to 
her seeker? And oh, that dark wanderer ; has Nature a marvel 
more weird than himself!" • 



CHAPTER LXXVI. 

I strayed through the forest till noon, in debate with myself, 
and strove to shape my wild doubts into purpose before 1 could 
nerve and compose myself again to face Margrave alone. 

I reentered the hut. To my surprise, Margrave was not in the 
room in winch I had left him, nor in that which adjoined it. I as- 
cended the stairs to the kind of loft in which I had been accustomed 
to pursue my studies, but in which 1 had not set foot since my 
alarm for Lilian had suspended my labors. There I saw Mar- 
grave quietly seated before the manuscript of my Ambitious Work, 
which lay open on the rude table just as I had left it in the midst 
of its concluding summary. 

"I have taken the license of former days, you see," said Mar- 
grave, smiling, " and have hit by chance on a passage I /-an un- 
derstand without effort. But why such a waste of argument to 
prove a fact so simple l In man, as in brute, life once lost, is lost 
forever ; and that is why life is so precious to man." 

I took the book from his hand and flung it aside in wrath. 
His approval revolted me more with my own theories than all 
the argumentative rebukes of Faber! 

"And now," said I, sternly, "the time has come for the explana-. 
i ion you promised. Before I can aid you in any experiment that 
may serve to prolong your life, I must know how far that life has 
been a baleful and destroying influence ?" 

" I have some faint recollection of having saved your life from 
an imminent, danger, and if gratitude were the attribute of man, as 
it is of the dog, 1 should claim your aid to save mine as a right. 
Ask me what you will. You must have seen enough of me to 
know that I do not affect either the virtues or -vices of others. 
I regard both with so supreme an indifference that I believe I 
am vicious or virtuous unawares. I know not if I can explain 



A STRANGE STORY. 331 

what seems to have perplexed you, bat if I cannot explain I 
have no intention to lie. Speak ; I listen ] We have time 
enough now before us." 

So saying, he reclined back in the chair, stretching out his 
limbs wearily. All round this spoiled darling of Material Nature, 
the aids and appliances of Intellectual Science ! Books and 
telescopes, and crucibles, with the light of day coming through 
a small circular aperture in the boarded casement as 1 had con- 
structed t lie opening- for my experimental observation of 1 he pris- 
ma! rays. 

While T write, bis image is as visible before my remombranr 
if before the actual eye — beautiful even in its decay, awful even 
in its weakness, mysterious as in Nature herself amidst all the me- 
chanism by which our fancied knowledge attempts to measure her 
laws and analyze her light. 

But at that moment no such subtle reflections delayed my 
inquisitive, eager mind from its immediate purpose — who and 
what was this creature boasting of a secret through which i 
might rescue from death, the life of her who was my all upon the 
earth. 

1 gathered rapidly and succinctly together all that I knew and 
all that I guessed of Margrave's existence and arts, i commenced 
from my Vision in that mimic Golgotha of creatures inferior to 
man, close by the scene of man's most trivial and meaningless 
pastime. I went on : Derval's murder; the missing contents of 
the casket ; the apparition seen by the maniac assassin guiding 
him to the horrid deed ; the luminous haunting Shadow ; the posi- 
tive charge in the murdered man's memoir connecting Margrave 
with Louis Grayle, and accusing him. of the murder of HarOnn ; 
the night in the moonlit pavilion at Derval Court ; the baneful in- 
fluence on Lilian ; the struggle between me and himself in the 
house by the sea-shore — The strange All that is told in this 
Strange Story. 

But warming as I spoke, and in a kind of fierce joy to he en- 
abled thus to free my own heart of the doubts that had burdened 
it, now that 1 was fairly face to face with the being by whom my 
reason had been perplexed and my life so tortured, I was re- 
strained by none of the fears lest my own fancy deceived me, with 
which in his absence 1 had striven to reduce to natural causes the 
portents of terror and wonder. I staled plainly, directly, the be- 
liefs, the impressions which 1 had never dared even to myself to 
own without seeking to explain them away. And coming at last 
to a close, 1 said: "Such are the evidences that seem to i 
justify abhorrence of the life that you ask mo to aid in prolonging. 
Your own tale of last nigh! but confir i slhem. And why io me — 
to me — do you come wiih wild entreaties to lengthen the life that 
lias blighted my own I How did you even learn the home in which 
I sought unavailing-refuge 1 -as your hint to Faber <•; 



332 A STRANGE STORY. 

revealed — were you aware that, in yon house, where the sorrow is 
veiled, where the groan is suppressed, where the foot-tread falls 
ghostlike, there struggles now between life and death my heart's 
twin, my world's sunshine ? Ah ! through my terror for her, is a 
demon that tells you how to bribe my abhorrence into submission, 
and supply my reason into use to your ends ?" 

Margrave had listened to me throughout with a fixed attention, 
at times with a bewildered stare, at times with exclamations of 
surprise, but not of denial. And when I had done he remained 
for some moments silent, seemingly stupefied, passing his hand re- 
peatedly over his brow, in the gesture so familiar to him in former 
days. 

At length he said, quietly, without evincing any sign either of 
resentment or humiliation : 

"In much you tell me I ' recognize myself; in much I am as 
lost in amazement as you in wild doubt or fierce wrath. Of the 
effect that you say Philip Derval produced on me I have no re- 
collection. Of himself I have only this : that he was my foe, that 
he came to England intent cln schemes to shorten my life or de- 
stroy its enjoyments. All my faculties tend to self-preset vation ; 
there they converge as rays in a focus ; in that focus they illume 
and — they burn. I willed to destroy my intended destroyer. Did 
my will enforce itself on the agent to which it was guided 1 Like- 
ly enough. Be it so. "Would you blame me for slaying the tiger 
or serpent — not by the naked hand, but by weapons that arm it? 
But what could tiger or serpent do more against me than the 
man who would rob me of life ? He had his arts for assault, I had 
mine for self-defence. He was to me as the tiger that creeps 
through the jungle, or the serpent uncoiling his folds for the spring. 
Death to those whose life is destruction to mine, be they serpent, 
or tiger, or man ! Derval perished. Yes ! the spot in which the 
maniac had buried the casket was revealed to me — no matter how: 
the contents of the casket passed into my hands. I coveted that 
possession because I believed that Derval had learned from Haroun 
of Aleppo the secret by which the elixir of life is prepared, and I 
supposed that some stores of the essence would be found in his 
casket. I was deceived ; not a drop ! What I there found I 
knew not how to use or apply, nor did I care to learn. What I 
sought was not there. You see a luminous shadow of myself; it 
iiaunls, it accosts, it compels you. Of this I know nothing. Was 
ii i he emanation of my intense will really producing this spectre of 
myself? or was it the thing of your own imagination — an imagina- 
tion which my will impressed and sub ugated 1 I know not. At 
the hours when my shadow, real or supposed, was with you, my 
senses would have been locked in sle p. It is true, however, that 
I intensely desired to learn from races always near to man, but 
concealed from his everyday vision, the secret that I believed . 
Philip Derval had carried with him to the tomb : and from some 



A STRANGE STORY. 333 

cause or another I cannot now of myself alone, as I could years 
ago, subject those races to my /Command. I must in that act 
through or with the mind of another. It. is true thai I sought to 
impress upon your waking thoughts the images of the circle, the 
powers of the wand, winch, in your trance or sleep-walking, made 
you the involuntary agent of my will. I knew by a dream — for 
by dreams, more or less vivid, are the results of my waking will 
sometimes divulged to myself — that the spell had been broken, the 
discovery i sought not elfected. All my hopes were then transfer- 
red from yourself, the dull votary of science, to the girl whom I 
charmed to my thraldom through her love, for you, and through 
her dreams of a realm which the science of schools never enters. 
In her imagination was all pure and all -potent, and tell me. oh, 
practical reasoner! if reason has ever advanced one step /into 
knowledge except through that imaginative faculty which is 
strongest in the wisdom of ignorance, and weakest in the ignorance 
of the wise. Ponder this, and those marvels that perplex you will 
cease to be marvellous. I pass on to the riddle that puzzles yon 
it. By Philip Dervaks account 1 am, in truth, Louis Grayle 
restored to youth by the elixir, and while yei infirm, decrepit, mur- 
dered llaroun — a, man of a frame as athletic as yours ! By accept- 
ing this notion you seem to yourself alone to unravel the mysteries 
you ascribe to my life and my powers. Oh, wise philosopher! oh, 
'profound logician! you accept that notion, yet hold my belief in 
the Dervish's tale a, chimera ! . 1 am Grayle made young by the 
r, and yet the elixir itself is a fail' 
He paused and laughed, but'the laugh was no longer even an 
echo of its former merriment or playfulness — a sinister and terrible 
laugh, mocking, threatening, malignant. 

Again he swept his hand over his brows, and resumed: 
" Is it not easier to so accomplished a sage as you to believe that 
the idlers of 1'aris have guessed the true solution of that problem — 
my place on this earth, .' May 1 not be the love son ot Louis 
Grayle ? And when llaroun refused the elixir to him, or he found 
that his frame was too far exhausted for even the elixir to repair 
organic lesions of structure in the worn frame of old age, may he 
not have indulged the common illusion of fathers, and soothed his 
death panj the thought, that -he should live again in hi- 

llaroun is found dead on his carpet — rumor said strangled. What 
proof oft e truth of that rumor I Might he not have passed away 
in a fit? Will it lessen your 'perplexity if [state recollections 1 
Tin ie — they often perplex myself; but so far from a 

wish io deceive you, my desire is to relate them so truthfully tha: 
you may aid me to reduce them into more definite form." 

s face now became very troubled, the tone of his voice very 
irresolute — the . the voice of a man who is cither blunder- 

ing his way through an intricate falsehood or through obscure re- 
miUMtBOM. 

/ 



334 > A STRANGE STORY. 

" This Louis Grayle ! this Louis Grayle ! I remember him well, 
as one remembers a nightmare. Whenever I look back, before the 
illness of which I will presently speak, the image of Louis Grayle 
returns to me. x I see myself with him in African wilds, command- 
ing the fierce Abyssinians. I see myself with him pi the fair Per- 
sian valley — lofty, snow-covered mountains encircling the garden 
of roses. I see myself with him in the hush of the golden noon, 
reclined by the spray of cool fountains ; now listening to cymbals 
and lutes; now arguing with gray-beards on secrets bequeathed by 
the Chaldees. With him, with him in moonlit nights, stealing into 
the sepulchres of mythical kings. I see myself with him in the 
aisles of dark caverns, surrounded by awful shapes, which have no ' 
likeness among the creatures of earth. Louis Grayle ! Louis 
yle ! all my earlier memories go back to Louis Grayle! All 
.its and powers, all that I have learned of the languages spoken 
in Europe, of the sciences taught in her schools, I owe to Louis 
Grayle. But am I one and the same with him 1 No. I am but 
a pale reflection of his giant intellect. I have not even a reflection 
of his childlike agonies of sorrow. Louis Grayle! He stands 
apart from me, as a rock from the tree that grows out from its 
chasms. Yes, the gossip was- right ; I must be his son." 

He leaned his face on both hands, rocking himself to and fro. 
At length, with a sigh, he resumed : 

" I remember, too, a long and oppressive illness, attended with 
racking pains ; a dismal journey in a wearisome litter, the light 
hand of the woman Ayesha, so sad and so stately, smoothing my 
pillow or fanning my brows. I .remember the evening on which 
my nurse drew the folds of the litter asi le, and said, ' See Aleppo! 
and the star of thy birth shining over its walls ! ' 

" 1 remember a face inexpressibly solemn and mournful. I re- 
member the chill that the co.hr, of its ominous eye sent through my 
veins — the face of Haroun, the Sage of Aleppo. I remember the 
vessel of crystal he bore in his hand, and the blessed relief from my 
pains that a drop from the essence which flashed through the crystal 
bestowed! And then — and then — I remember no more till the 
night on which Ayesha came to my couch and said, ' Rise.' 

"And I rose, leaning on her, supported by her. We went 
through dim, narrow streets, faintly lit by wan stars, disturbing the 
prowl of the dogs, that slunk from the look of that woman. We 
came to a solitary house, small and low, and my nurse said, ' W^it.' 

" She 'opened the door and went in; I seated myself on the 
threshold. And after a time she came out from the house, and led 
me, still leaning on her, into a chamber. 

" A man lay, as in sleep, on the carpet, and beside him stood 
another man, whom I recognized as Ayesha's special attendant — 
an Indian. ' Haroun is dead ! ' said Ayesha. ' Search for that 
which wili give thee new life. Thou hast seen, and wilt know it, 
not I."' 



• \ 

A STRANGE STORY. 335 

" And I put my hand on the breast of Haronn — for the dead 
man was he — and drew from it the vessel of crystal. 

" Having done so, the frown on his marble brow appalled me. 
I staggered back, and swooned away. 

" I came to my senses, recovered and rejoicing, miles afar from 
the city, the dawn red on its distant walls. Ayesha had tended 
me ; the elixir had already restored me. 

"My first thought, when full consciousness came back to me, 
rested on Louis Grayle, for he also had been at Aleppo. 1 was 
but one of his numerous train. He too was enfeebled and suffer- 
ing; ho had sought the known skill of Haroun. for himself as for 
me; and this woman loved and had tended him as she bad loved 
and tended me. And my nurse told me that he was dead, and for- 
bade me henceforth to breath his name. 

" "We traveled on — she and I, and the Indian, her servant — m;. 
strength still renewed by the wondrous elixir. No longer sup- 
ported by her; what gazelle ever roved through its pasture with a 
bound more elastic than mine .' 

"We came to a town, and my nurse placed before me a mirror. 
I did not recognize myself. In this town we rested obscure, till 
the letter there reached me by which I learned that I was the off- 
spring of hue, and enriched by the care of a father recently dead. 
It is not clear that Louis Grayle was this father ? " 

"If so, was the woman, Ayesha, your mother? " 

" The letter said that ' my mother had died in my infancy.' 
Nevertheless, the care with which Ayesha had tended me induced 
a suspicion that made me ask her the very question you put. She 
wept when 1 asked her, and said, ' No, only my nurse.' And now 
I needed a nurse no more. The day after I received the letter 
which announced an inheritance that allowed me to vie with the 
nobles of Europe, this women left me, and went back to her tribe." 

" Have you never seen her since'? " 

Margrave hesitated a moment, and then answered, though with 
seeming reluctance, " Yes, at Damascus. Not many days after 1 
was borne to that city by the strangers, who found me half dead 
on their road, 1 woke one morning to find her by my side. And 
she said, ' In joy and in health you did not need me. I am needed 
now.' " 

" Did you then deprive yourself of one so devoted ! You 
made this long voyage — from Egypt to Australia — alone ; you. 
to whom wealth gave no excuse for privation t " 

" The woman came with me, and some chosen attendants. 1 
ged to ourselves the vessel we sailed in." 

•• Where have you lefl \ our companions '{ " 

" By this hour," answered Margrave, "they are in reach of m\ 
summons; and when you and 1 have achieved the discovery — in 
the results of which we shall share — I will exact no more from 
\our aid. 1 trust all that rests for my cure to my uurte and her 



336 A STRANGE STORY. 

swarthy 'attendants. You will aid me now, as a matter of course ; 
the physician whose counsel you needed to guide your own skill 
enjoins you to obey my whim — if whim you still call it ; you will 
obey it, for on that whim rests your sole hope of happiness — you, 
who can love — I love nothing but life. Has my frank narrative 
solved all the doubts that stood between you and me, in the great 
meeting-ground of an interest in common ?" 

" Solved all the doubts ! Your wild story but makes some the 
darker, leaving others untouched ; the occult powers of which you 
boast, and some of Which I have witnessed — your very ^insight 
into my own household sorrows, into the interest I have, with 
V! "••urself, in the truth of a faith so repugnant to reason — " 

"Pardon me," interrupted Margrave, with that slight curve of 
the lip which is half smile and half sneer, "if, in my account of 
myself, 1 omitted what 1 cannot explain and you cannot conceive; 
let me first ask how many of the commonest actions of the com- 
monest men are purely involuntary and wholly inexplicable ] — 
When, for instai/e, you open your lips and utter a sentence, you 
have not the faintest idea beforehand what word will follow an- 
other : when you move a muscle can you tell me the thought that 
ipts to the movement 1 And, wholly unable thus to account 
our own sample sympathies between impulse and act, do you 
believe that there exists a man upon earth who can read all the 
riddles in the heart and brain of another? Is it not true that not 
one drop of water, one atom of matter, ever really touches another ? 
Between each and each there is always a space, however in- 
simally small. How, then, could the world go on if every man 
] another to make Ids whole history and being as lucid as day - 
before he would buy and sell with him 1 All interchange and 
alliance rests but on this — an interest in common — you and 1 have 
established that interest. All the rest, all you ask more, is super- 
fluous. Could I answer each doubt you would raise, still, wh< 
the answer would please or revolt you, your reason would come 
back to the same starting-point, namely, in one definite proposal 
have we two an interest in comiaon :"' 

And again Margrave laughed, not in mirth but in mockery. — 
The laugh and the words that preceded it were not the laugh and 
the words of the young. Could it.be possible that Louis Grayle 
had indeed revived to false youth in the person of Margrave, such 
might have been his laugh and such his words. The whole mind 

fargrave seemed to have undergone change since I last 
him ; more rich in idea, more crafty even in candor, more power- 
ful, more concentred. As we see in our ordinary experience that; 
some infirmity, threatening dissolution, brings forth more vividly 
the reminiscences of early years, when impressions were vigorously 
stamped, so I might have thought that, as Margrave neared the 
tomb, the memories he had retained from his former existence in a 
being more amply endowed, more formidably potent, struggled 



A STRANGE STORY. 337 

back to the brain, and the mind that had lived in Louis Grayle 
moved the lips of the dying Margrave. 

" For the powers and the arts that it equally puzzles your rea- 
son to assign or deny to me," resinned my terrible guest, " I will 
say briefly but this: they come from faculties stored within my- 
self, and doubtless conduce to my self-preservation — faculties 
more or less, perhaps (so Van Helmonl asserts), given to all men, 
though dormant in mosi — vivid and active, in me, because in me, 
self-preservation has been and yet is the strong master-passion or 
instinct ; and because 1 have been taught how to use and direct 
such faculties by disciplined teachers ; some by Louis (Irayle, the 
enchanter; some by my nurse, the singer of charmed songs. But 
in much that I will to have done I know no more than yourself 
how the agency acts. Enough for me to will what I wished, and 
sink calmly in slumber, sure that the will would work somehow 
iis way. But when I have willed to know what, when known, 
should shape my own courses, I could see, without aid from your 
pitiful telescopes, all objects howsoever afar. What wonder in 
that 1 Have you no learned, puzzle-brain metaphysicians, who 
tell you that space is but an idea, all this palpable universe an 
idea in the mind, and no more ! Why am 1 an enigma as dark as 
the Sibyl's, and your metaphysicians as plain as a horn-book ?" — 
Again the sardonic laugh. U Enough : let what 1 have said ob- 
scure or enlighten your guesses, we come back to the same link of 
union, which binds man to man, bids states arise from the desert, 
foe men embrace as brothers. I need you, and you need me ; 
without your aid my life is doomed ; without my secret the breath 
will have gone from the lips of your Liliau before the sun of to- 
morrow is red on yon hill-tops." 

" Fiend or juggler!" I cried, in rage, "you shall not so en- 
slave and enthral me by this mystic farrago and jargon! Make 
your fantastic experiment on yourself, if you will : trust to your 
arts and your powers. My Lilian's life shall not hang on your 
fiat.. I trust it— to— " 

" To what — to man's skill ? Hear what the sage of the col- 
lege shall tell you, before I aslc you again for your aid. Do you 
trust to God's saving mercy? Ah, of course you believe in a 
Cod I Who except a philosopher can reason a Maker away I — 
But that the Maker will alter His courses to hear you ; that, wheth- 
er or not you trust in Him or in your doctor, it will change by" a 
hair-breadth the thing that must be — do you believe this, Allen 
Fenwiok \" 

And there sat this reader of hearts ! a boy in his aspect, mock- 
ing me and the gray-beards of schools. 

1 could listen no more; I turned to the door and fled down the 
-. and beard, as 1 fled, a low chant ; feeble and faint, it was 
Btill the old barbaric chant by which the serpent is drawn from 
its hole by the charmer. 
22 



338 A STRANGE STORY. 



CHAPTER LXXVII. 

To those of my readers who may seek with Julius Fabcr to 
explore, through intelligible causes, solutions of the marvels I 
narrate, Margrave's confession may serve to explain away much 
that my own superstitious beliefs had obscured. To them Mar- 
grave is evidently the son of Louis Grayle. The elixir of life is 
reduced to some simple restorative, owing much of its effect to 
the faith of a credulous patient; youth is so soon restored to its 
joy in the sun, with or without an elixir. To them, Margrave's 
arts of enchantment are reduced to those idiosyncrasies of tem- 
perament on which the disciples of Mesmer build up their theo- 
ries ; exaggerated, in much, by my own superstitions; aided, in 
pari, by such natural, purely physical magic as, explored by the 
ancient priestcrafts, is despised by the modern philosophies, and 
only remains occult because Science delights no more in the fil 
of the lantern which fascinated her childhood with 
phantoms. To theft)., Margrave is, perhaps, an enthusiast, 

mse an enthusiast., not less an impostor. " JWHommi 
fique" says Charron. Man cogs the dice for himself ere he 
ties the box for his dupes. Was there ever successful impo 
who did not commence by a fraud on his own understanding 
Cradled in Orient Fable-land, what though Margrave believe 
its legends ; in a wand, an elixir; in sorcerers or Afrites? 
belief in itself makes him l>cen to detect, and skilful to profit 

atent but kindred credulities of others. In all illustrations 

luper and Duped through the records of superstition — from 
the guile of a Cromwell, a Mahomet, down to the cheats of a 
gipsy — professional visionaries are amongst theastutes' observers. 

knowledge that Margrave had gained of my abode, of my af- 
fliction, or of the innermost thoughts in my mind, it surely demand- 
ed no preternatural aids to acquire. An Old Bailey attorney 
could have got at the one. and any quick student of human hearts 
have readily mastered the other. In fine, Margrave, thus ration- 
a ly criticized, is no qfher prodigy (save in degree and concur- 
rence of attributes simple, though not very common) than may be 
found in each alley that harbors a fortune-teller who has just faith 
enough in the stars or the cards to bubble himself while he swin- 
dles his victims ; earnest, indeed, in the self-conviction that he is 
really a seer, but reading the looks of his listeners, divining the 
thoughts that induce them to listen, and acquiring by practice a 

ing ability to judge what the listeners will deem it most 
eeer-like to read in the cards or divine from the stars. 



A STRANGE STORY. 339 

I leave this interpretation unassailed. It is that which is the 
most probable, it is clearly that which, in a case not my own, I 
should have accepted ; and yet I revolved and dismissed it. The 
moment we deal with things beyond our comprehension) and in 
which our own senses are appealed to and baffled, We revolt from 
the Probable, as it seems to the senses of those who have not ex- 
perienced what we have. And the same Principle of Wonder 
that led our philosophy up from inert ignorance into restless knowl- 
edge, now winding back into Shadow-land reverses its rule by the 
way, and, at last, leaves us lost in the maze, our ltnowlet ge inert, 
and our ignorance restless. 

And putting aside all other reasons for hesitating to believe that 
Margrave was the sen of Louis Grayle — reasons which his own 
narrative might suggest — was it not strange that Sir Philip Der- 
val, who had instituted inquiries so minute, and reported them in 
his memoir with so faithful a care, should not have discovered 
thai a youth, attended by the same woman who had attended 
Grayle, had disappeared from the town on the same night as 
Grayle himself disappeared ? But Derval had related truthfully, 
ding to Margrave's account, the flight of Ayeslia and her 
Indian servant, yet not even alluded to tlie flight, not even to the 
existence of the hoy, who must have been of no mean importl 
in the suite of Louis Grayle, i! he were, indeed, tin' son whom 
Grayle had made his constant companion, and constituted his 
principal heir. 

Not many minutes did 1 give myself up to the cloud of reflec- 
tions through which no sunbeam of light forced its way. < hie 
thought overmastered all s Margrave had threatened death to my 
Lilian, and warned me of what I should learn from the lips of 
r, "the sage of the college." I stood, shuddering, at the 
door of my home; I did not dare to enter. 

•' .Mien," said a voice, in which my ear detected an unwonted 
tremulous faltering, "lie firm — lie calm. I keep my promise. — 
hour is come in which you may again see the Lilian of old — 
mind to mind, soul to soul." 

Faher's hand took mine, and led me into the house. 

" You do, then, tear that this interview will he too much for her 
strength.'" said I, wbisperingTy. 

" I cannot say ; hut she demands the interview, and 1 dare not 
refuse it." 



■ 



340 A STRANGE STORY, 



CHAPTER LXXyill. 

I left Faber on the stairs, and paused at the door of Lilian's 
room. The door opened suddenly, noiselessly, and her mother 
came out with one hand before her face and the other locked in 
Amy's, who was leading her as a child leads the blind. Mrs. 
Ashleigb looked up, as I touched her, with a vacant, dreary stare. 
She was not weeping, as was her womanly wont in every pettier 
grief, but Amy was. No word was exchanged between us. I en- 
tered, and closed the door ; my eyes turned mechanically to ihe 
corner in which was placed the small virgin bed, with its curtains 
white as a shroud. Lilian was not there. I looked round, and 
saw her half-reclined on a couch near the window. She was 
dressed, and with care. Was not that ber bridal robe 1 

"Allen — Allen," she murmured. "Again, again my Allen — 
again, again your Lilian!" And, striving in vain to vise, she 
stretched oul her arms in the yearning of reunited love. And as 1 
knelt beside her, those arms closed round me for the first time, in 
the frank, chaste, holy tenderness of a wife's embrace. 

'• Ah !" she said, in her low voice (her voice like Cordelia's was 
ever low), " all has come back to me — all that I owe to your pro- 
tecting, noble, trustful, guardian love ! " 

"Hush! hush ! the gratitude rests with me — it is so sweet to 
love, to trust, to guard ! — my own, my beautiful, still my beautiful ! 
Suffering has not dimmed the light of those dear eyes to me. Put 
your lips to my ear. Whisper but these words : ' I love you, and 
tor your sake I wish to live ! " 

" For your sake i pray — with my whole* weak human heart — I 
pray to live. Listen. Some days hereafter, if I am spared, under 
the purple blossoms of yonder waving trees, I shall tell you all, as 
I see it now, all that darkened or shone on me in my long dream, 
and before the dream closed around me, like a night in which cloud 
and star chase each other ! Some day hereafter, some quiet, sun- 
lit, happy, happy day. But now all I would say is this : Before 
that dreadful morning." Here she paused, shuddered, and pas- 
sionately burst forth, " Allen, Allen ! you did not believe that slan- 
derous letter ! God bless yon ! God bless you ! Great-hearted, 
high-souled — God bless you, my darling ! my husband ! And He 
will. Pray to Him humbly as I do, and He will bless you." She 
stooped and kissed away my tears, then she resumed, feebly, meek- 
ly sorrowfully : 

" Before that morning I was not worthy of such a heart, such a 



A STRANGE STORY. 341 

love as yours. No, no ; hear me. Not that a thought of love for 
another ever crossed me ! Never, when conscious and reasoning, 
was I untrue to you — even in fancy. But I was a -child — wayward 
as the child who pines for what earth cannot give, and covets the 
moon for a toy. Heaven had been so kind to my lot on earth, and 
yet with my lot on earth 1 was secretly discontented. When I 
felt that you loved me, and my heart told me that I loved again, 1 
said to myself, 'Now ihe void that my soul finds on earth will he 
tilled.' 1 longed for your coming, ami yet when you went 1 mur- 
mured, ' Bat is this the ideal of Which 1 had dreamed V I asked 
for an impossible sympathy. Sympathy with what ? Nay, smile 
on me, dearest! — sympathy With what;' I could not have said. 
Ah ! Allen, then, then I was not worthy of you, infant that I was, 
I asked you to understand me. Now I know that I am woman, 
and my task is to study you! Dol make myself clear .' do you 
forgive me? 1 was not untrue to you; I was untrue to my own 
duties in life. 1 believed, in my vain conceit, that a mortal's dim 
vision of heaven raised me above the earth ; I did not perceive the 
truth that earth is a part of the same universe as heaven ! Now, 
perhaps in the awful affliction that, darkened my reason, my soul 
lias been made more clear As if to chastise but to teach me, my 
soul has been permitted to indulge its own presumptuous desire ; h 
has wandered forth from the trammels of mortal duties ami 
tiniesj it comes back, alarmed by the dangers of its own rash and 
presumptuous escape from the tasks which it should desire on earth 
irform. .Mien, Allen, I am less unworthy of you now ! Per- 
haps in my darkness one rapid glimpse of the true world of spirit 
has been vouchsafed to me. If so, how unlike to the visions mj 
childhood indulged as divine! Now, while I know still more deep- 
ly that there is a world for the angels, I know also that the mortal 
must pasS through probation in the world of mortals. Oh, may I 
oass through it with you — grieving in your griefs, rejoicing in your 
joys!" 

Here language failed her. Again the dear arms embraced me, 
and the dear face, eloquent with love, hid itself on my human breast. 



CHAPTER LXX1X. 

That interview is over! Again I am banished from Lilian's 
room ; the agitation, the joy of that meeting has overstrained her 
enfeebled nerves. Convulsive tremblings of the whole frame, ac- 
companied with vehement sobs, succeeded our brief interchange of 
sweet and bitter thoughts. Faber, in tearing me from her side, 



342 A STRANGE STORY. 

i 

imperiously and sternly warned me that the sole chance yet left of 
preserving her life was in the merciful suspense of the emotions 
that my presence excited. He and Amy resumed their place in 
her chamber. Even her mother shared my sentence of banishment. 
So Mrs. Ashleigh and I sat facing each other in the room helow ; 
over me a leaden stupor had fallen, and I heard, as a voice from 
afar or in a dream, the mother's murmured wailings, 

" She will die — she will die ! Her eyes have the same heavenly 
look as my Gilbert's on the day on which his closed forever. Her 
very words are his last words — ' Forgive me all my faults to you.' 
She will die — she will die ! " 

Hours thus passed away. At length Faber entered the room ; 
he spoke first to Mrs. Ashleigh — meaningless soothings, familiar to 
the lips of all who pass from the chamber of the dying to the pre- 
sence of mourners, and know that it is a falsehood to say "hope," 
and a mockery, as yet, bo say "endure." 

But he led her away to her own room docile as a wearied child 
led to sleep, stayed with her some time, and then returned to me, 
pressing me to his breast, iatherdike. 

" No hope — no hope ! " said 1, recoiling from Ids embrace. " You 
are silent. Speak ! speak! Let me know the worst" 

" I have a hope, yet 1 scarcely dare to bid you share it, for it 
grows rather out of my heart as man than my experience as physi- 
cian. I cannot think that her soul would be now .so reconciled fco 
earth — so fondly, so earnestly cling to this mortal life — if it 
about to lie summoned away. You know how commonly even the 
sufferers who have dreaded Death the most become caiml;, 
signed to its coming, when Death visibly reveals itself out from 
shadows in winch its shape has been guessed and not seen. -As it 
is a bad sign for life when the patient has lost all will to live on, so 
there is hope while the patient yet young and with no perceptible 
breach h; the great centres of life (however violently their forts 
may be stormed), has still intense faith in recovery, perhaps drawn 
(who can say?) from the whispers conveyed from above to the 
soul. 

" I cannot bring myself to think that all the uses for which a 
reason, always so lovely even in its errors, has been restored, are 
yet fulfilled. It seems to me as if your union, as yet so imperfect, 
has still for its end that holy life on earth by which two mortal 
beidgs strengthen each other for a sphere of existence to which 
this is the spiritual ladder. Through yourself I have hope yet for 
her. Gifted with powers that rank you high in the manifold 
orders of man — thoughtful, laborious, and brave; with a heart that 
makes intellect vibrate to every fine touch of humanity ; in error 
itself conscientious, in delusions still eager for truth ; in anger, 
forgiving; in wrong, seeking how to repair; and best of all, strong 
in a love which the mean would have shrunk to defend from the 
fangs of the slanderer — a love, raising passion itself out of the 



A STRANGE STORY. :Wo 

realm of the. senses, made sublime by the sorrows that tried its 
devotion; with allthese noble proofs in yourself of a being not 
meant toi'iul here — your life has stopped short in its uses, your 
mind itself has been drifted, a hark without rudder or pilot, 
oyer seas without shores, under skies without siars. And where- 
fore? Because the Mind you so .haughtily vaunted has refused its 
companion and teacher in Soul. 

"And therefore, through you, I hope that she will be spared yel 
to live on. She, in whom soul has been led dimly astray, by un- 
heeding the cheeks and the definite goals which the mind is or- 
dained to prescribe to its wanderings while here; the mind taking 
thoughts from the actual and visible world, and the soul but v 
glimpses and hints from the instinct ^i' its ultimate heritage. Each 
of you two seems to me as yet incomplete, and your destinies yet 
uncompleted. Through the bonds of the heart, through the trials 
of lime, ye have both to consummate your marriage. I do not — 
believe me — I do not say this in the fanciful wisdom of allegory 
and type, save that, wherever deeply examined, allegory and 
run through all the, most commonplace phases of outward and 
material life. I hope, then, that she may yet be spared to you — 
hope it, not from my skill as a physician, but my inward belief as 
a Christian. To perfect your own being ami end, each <>/ n<>" 
has need of the other ! " 

I started — the very words that Lilian had heard in her vision! 

- But," resumed Faber, " how can 1 presume to trace the num- 
berless links of effects up to the First Cause, far off — oh, far off — 
out o( the scope of my reason. L leave that to philosophers, 
who would laugh my meek hope to scorn. 

•■ Possibly, probably, where 1, whose calling- lias been but to save 
flesh from the worm, deem that the life of your Lilian is needed 
yet. lo develop and train your own convictions of soul; Heaven in 
its wisdom may see that her death would instruct you far more than 
her life. 1 have said: lie prepared for either; wisdom through 
joy. or wisdom through grief. Enough that, looking only through 
the mechanism by winch this moral world is impelled and im- 
proved, you know that cruelty is impossible to wisdom. Even a 
man, or man's law, is never wise but when it is merciful. But 
mercy has general conditions; and that which is mercy to the 
myriads may seem hard to the one; and that which seems hard to 
the one in the pang of a moment may be mercy when viewed by 
the eye that looks on through eternity." 

And from all tins discourse — of which I now, ai calm distance 
of time, recall every word — my human, loving heart bore away 

16 moment but this sentence, " Each has need of the oth< 
so (hat i cried out, " Life, life, life ! Is there no hope for her life ? 
i you no hope as physician J I am physician too; i will 
see. her. 1 will judge. 1 will not be banished from my p. 

"Judge then, as physician, and let the responsibility rest with 



3 Jr 4 A STRANGE STORY. 

you. At this moment all convulsions, all struggle has ceased, the 
frame is at rest. Look on her, and perhaps only the physician's 
eye could distinguish her state from death. It is not $leep, it- is 
not trance, it is not the dooming coma from which there is no 
awaking. Shall I call it by the name received in our schools'? 
Is it the catalepsy in which life is suspended, but consciousness 
acute ? She is motionless, rigid ; it is but with a strain of my own 
sense that I know that the breath still breathes, and the heart still 
beats. But I am convinced that though she can neither speak nor 
stir, nor give sign,, that she is fully, sensitively conscious of all 
that passes around her. She is like those who have seen the very 
coffin carried into their chamber, and been unable to cry out ' Do 
not bury me alive! ' Judge then for yourself, with this intense, 
consciousness and this impotency to evince it, what might be the 
effect of your presence — first an agony of despair, and then the 
complete extinction of life ! " 

" I have known but one such case A mother whose heart was 
wrapped up in a suffering infant. She had lain for two days and 
two nights, still, as if in her shroud. All, save myself, said, 
'Life is gone.' I said, ' Life still is there.' They brought in the 
infant, to try what effect its presence would produce ; then her lips 
moved, and the hands crossed upon her hosom trembled." 

" And the result '{ " exclaimed Faber, eagerly. " If the result 
of your experience sanction your presence, come ; the sight of the 
babe rekindled life 1 " 

"No; extinguished its last spark! I will not enter Lilian's 
room. 1 will go away — away from the house itself. That acute 
consciousness ! I know it well ! She may even hear me move in 
the room below, hear me speak at this moment. (r<> back to her, 
go back ! But if hers be the state which I have known in another, 
which may be yet more familiar to persons of far ampler ex- 
perience than mine, there is no immediate danger of death. 
The state will last through to-day, through to-night ; perhaps for 
days to come. Is it so 1 " 

" I believe that for at least twelve hours there will be no change 
in her state. I believe also that if she recover from it calm and 
refreshed, as from a sleep, the danger of death will have passed 
away." 

" And for twelve hours my presence would be hurtful 1 " 

" Rather say fatal, if my diagnosis be right." 

I wrung my friend's hand, and we parted. 

" Oh, to lose her now ! — now that her love and her reason had 
both returned, each more vivid than before ! Futile, indeed, might 
be Margrave's boasted secret ; but at least in that secret was hope. 
In recognized science I saw only despair. 

And at that thought all dread of this mysterious visitor vanished — 
all anxiety to question more of his attributes or his history. His 
life itself became to me dear and precious. What if it should fail 



A STRANGE STORY. 345 

me in the slops of the process, Whatever that was, by which the 
Kfe of my Lilian might in' saved ! 

The shades of the eveniDg were now closing in. I Cemembered 
that I bad left Margrave wit limit even food for many hours. I 
stole round to the back of the bouse, filled a basket with afiments, 

more generous than those 01 the former day ; extracted fresh dl 
from my stores, and, thus laden, hurried hack to the hut. i found 
Margrave in-the room below, seated on his mysterious coffer, lean- 
ing iiis face on his hand. When I entered, he looked up and said: 
"You have neglected me. My strength is waning. (Jive me 
more of the cordial, for we have work before us to-night, and I 
need support." 

He took f6r granted my assent to his wild experiment :: and he 
was right. 

1 administered the cordial. I placed food before him, and 
he did not eat with repugnance. I poured out wine, and he 
'. it sparingly, but with ready compliance, saying, " [n 
feet health I looked upon wine as poison, now it is like ; 
of the glorious eli- 

Fter be had thus recruited himsel - mod to acquire an 

energy thai startlingly contrasted his languor the day before; the 
efforl of breathing Was scarcely perceptible; the color came I 
to his cheeks ; his bended frame rose elastic and erect. 

." If I understood you rightly," said 1, "the experiment you 
ask me to aid can be accomplished in a single night ?" 
" In a single night — this night ! " 
•■ Command me. Why nut begin at once; Whaf 
chemical agencies do yen need ? " 

" Ah," said Margrave ; "formerly, how I was mis! iwr- 

ly, how my conjectures blundered ! I thought, when 1 asked 

.e a month to the experiment I wished to make, that I should 
need the subtlesl skill of the chemist. I then believed, with 
Helmont, that the principle of life is a gas, and that the seprei was 
but in the mode by which the gas might bo rightly administered, 
now ali that I need is contained in this coffer, save one 
simple material — fuel sufficient for a steady fin' for six hours. I 
■ ven that is al hand, piled up in your outhouse. And now for 
substance itself — to that you must guide me." 
splain." 
''Near this very spot is there not gold — in mines yet undiscover- 
ed I — and gold of the purest metal .' " 

"There is. What then? Do you, with the alchemists, blend 
in one discovery — gold and lb' 

"No. Bu1 it I- only where tl try of earth or of man 

res gold that the substance from which the great pabulu 
life, extracted by ferment, is found. ; >u the a;: 

thai transmutation of metals, which I think your ov. chem- 

ist — sir Humphrey Davy — allowed mi ssible, but held to 



346 A STRANGE STORY. 

be not worth the cost of the process — possibly, in those attempts, 
some scanty grains of this substance were found by the alchemist 
in the crucible, with grains of the metal as niggardly yielded by 
pitiful mimicry of Nature's stupendous laboratory ; and from such 
grains enough of the essence might, perhaps, have been 
drawn forth to add a few years of existence to some feeble 
graybeard — granting, what rests on no proofs, that some of the 
alchemist^ reached an age-rarely given to man. But it is not in 
the miserly crucible, it is in the matrix of Nature herself that we 
must seek in prolific abundance Nature's-grand principle — life. As 
the loadstone is rife with the magnetic virtue, as amber contains 
the electric, so in this substance, to which we yet want a name, is 
found the bright life-giving fluid. In the old gold mines of Asia 
and Europe the substance exists, but can rarely be met with. The 
soil for its nutriment may there be well-nigh exhausted. It is here, 
where Nature herself is all vital with youth, that the nutriment of 
youth must be sought. Near this spot is gold — guide me to it." 

" You cannot come witb me. The place which I know as aurifer- 
ous is some miles distant ; the way rugged. You cannot walk to 
it. It is true I have horses, but " 

" Do you think I have come this distance, and not foreseen and 
forestalled all that I want for my object? Trouble yourself not 
with conjectures how I can arrive at the place. I have provided 
the means to arrive at, and leave it. My litter and its bearers are 
in reach of my call. Give me your arm to the rising ground fifty 
yards from your door/' 

I obeyed mechanically;, stifling all surprise. I had made my re- 
solve, and admitted no thought that could shake it. 

When we reached the summit of the grassy hillock, which sloped 
from the road that led to the sea-port, .Margrave, after pausing to 
recover breath, lifted up his voice in a key not loud, but shrill and 
slow and prolonged, half cry, and half chant, like the night-hawk's. 
Through that air, so limpid and still, bringing near far objects, far 
sounds, the voice pierced its way, artfully pausing, till wave after 
wave of the atmosphere bore and transmitted it on. 

In a few minutes the call seemed reechoed, so exactly, so cheeri- 
ly, that for the moment I thought that the note was the mimicry 
of the shy mocking Lyre-Bird, which mimics so merrily all that it 
hears in the coverts, from the whirr of the locust to the howl of 
the wild dog. 

" What king," said the mystic charmer, and as he spoke he 
carelessly rested hits hand on my shoulder, so that I trembled to 
feel that this dread son of Nature, Godless and soulless, who had 
been — and my heart whispered, who still could be — my bane and 
mind-darkener, leaned upon me for support, as the spoiled younger 
born on his brother — " what king," said this cynical mocker, with 
his beautiful boyish face — "what king in your civilized Europe has 
way of a chief of the East 1 What link is so strong between 



A STRANGE STORY. 347 

l 

nmrta! and mortal as that, between lord and slave? I trans 
yon poor fools from the land of their bir preserve here their 

old habits — obedience and awe. They would wait till they starved 
in the solitude — wait to hearken and answer my call. And I, who 
thus rule them or charm l hem — 1 use and despise them. They know 
and yel serve me! Between you and me, my philosopher, 
there is but one thing worth living for — life for one's self." 

Is it. age,ia it youth, that thus shocks all my sense, in my solemn 
leieness of mail I -i of 

pleasure will answer, " it is youth ; and we think what 1; 
Young friends, I do not believe you. 



CHAPTER LXXX. 

Along the grass track I saw now, under the moon, just risen, 
a strange procession — never seen before in Australian pastures. — 
It moved mi. noiselessly but quickly. We descended the hill 
and met, it mi the way. A sable litter, borne by four men, in un- 
familiar Eastern garments; two other swarthy servitors, 
bravely dressed, yataghans and silverdnlted pistols in their belts, 
preceding this sombre equipage Perhaps Margrave divined 
disdainful thought that passed through my mind, vaguely and ha f- 
consciously : for he said, with the hollow, bitter laugh that had 
replaced the lively peal of bis once melodious mirth : 

V little leisure and a little gold, .and your raw colonist, too. 
Will have the !:: 

1 niad" i .-. I had ceased to care who and what was my 

tempter. To me his whole being was resolved into one problem. 
Had he a secret by which Death could be turned from Lilian ? 

But now. as the litter halted, from the long dark shadow which 
if cast: upon the tut , /are of a wo;:. : ■(]. ami stood 

before us. The outlines ^i' ber shape were losl in I folds 

of a black mantle, and the features of her face were hidden by a 
black veil, except only tlie dark, bright.- ■ es. Her 

ture was lofty, her bearing majestic, whether in movement or re- 
pose. 

Margrave accosted her in some language unknown to me. She 
replied in what seemed to my ear the same tongue. Th< 
her voice were sweei but inexpressibly mournful. The words that 
they uttered appeared intended to warn, or deprecate, or dissuade, 
for they called to Margrave's brow a lowering frown, and drew 
from his lips a burst of unmistakable anger. The woman rejoined, 
in the same melancholy music of voice. And Margri i 
leaning his arm upon her shoulder, as he had leaned it on mine. 



348 A STRANGE STORY. 

I 

drew her away from the group into a neighboring copse of the 
flowering eucalypti — mystic trees, never changing in the hues of 
their pale green leaves, ever shifting the tints of their ash-gray, 
shedding bark. For some moments I gazed on the two human 
forms, dimly seen by the glinting moonlight through the gaps in 
the fuliage. Then, turning away my eyes, I saw, standing close 
at my side, a man whom 1 had not noticed before. His footstep, 
as it stole to me, had fallen on the sward without sound. His 
dress, though Oriental, differed from that of his companions, both 
in shape and color; fitting close to the breast, leaving the arms 
hare to the elbow, and of a uniform, ghastly white, as are the cere- 
ments of the grave. His visage was even darker than those of 
the Syrians or Arabs behind him, and his features were those of a 
bird of prey — the beak of the eagle, but the eye of the vulture. 
His cheeks were hollow; the arms, crossed on his breast, were 
long and fleshless. Yet in that skeleton form there was a some- 
thing which conveyed the idea of a serpent's suppleness and 
strength ; and as the hungry, watchful eyes met my own startled 
gaze, I recoiled impulsively with that inward warning of danger 
.which is conveyed to man, as to inferior animals, in the very as-' 
of the creatures that sting or devour. At, my movement the 
man inclined his head in the submissive Eastern salutation, and 
spoke in his foreign tongue, softly, humbly, fawningly, to judge 
by his tone and his gesture. 

I moved yet further away from him with loathing, and now the 
human thought flashed upon me : was, I iu truth exposed to no 
danger in trusting myself to the mercy of the weird and remorse- 
less master of those hirelings from the East 1 — ^even men in num- 
ber, two at least oi* them formidably armed, and docile as blood- 
hounds to the hunter, who has only to show them their prey. But 
fear of man like myself is not ray weakness ; where fear found its 
way to my heart it was through the doubts or the fancies in which 
man like myself disappeared in the attributes, dark and unknown, 
which we give to a tiend or a spectre. And perhaps, if I could 
have paused to analyze my own sensations, the very presence of 
this escort — creatures of flesh and blood — lessened the dread of 
my incomprehensible tempter. Rather, a hundred times, front 
and defy those seven Eastern slav.es — I, haughty son, of the An- 
glo-Saxon who conquers all races because he fears no odds — than 
have seen again on the walls of my threshold the luminous, bodi- 
less Shadow ! Besides, Lilian — Liliau ! for one chance of saving 
her life, however wild and chimerical that chance might be, I 
would have shrunk not a foot from the march of an army. 

Thus reassured and thus resolved, I advanced, with a smile of 
disdain, to meet Margrave and his veiled companion, as they now 
came from the moonlit copse. 

" Well," I said to him, with an irony that unconsciously mini- 



A STRANGE STORY. 349 

icked his own, " have you taken advice with your nurse ? I as- 
sume that the dark form by your side is that of Ay est) a !" 

The woman looked at me from ber sable veil, with her stead- 
fast, solemn eyes, and said, in English, though with a foreign ac- 
cent, " Tbe nurse, horn in Asia, is but wise through her love ; (lie 
pale son of Europe is wise through his art. The nurse says. 
' Forbear !' Do you say ' Adventure V " 

" Peace !" exclaimed Margrave, stamping his fool, on (lie 
ground, " I take no counsel from either : it is for me to resolve, 
for you to obey, and for him to aid. Night is come, and we waste 
if; move on." 

The woman made no reply, nor did I. He took my arm and 
walked back to the hut. Tbe barbaric escort followed. When 
we reached the doer of the building Margrave said a few words to 
the woman and to the litter-bearers. Tbey entered the hut with 
us. Margrave pointed out to the woman his coffer ; to the men, 
the fuel stowed in the outhouse. Bath were borne away and 
placed within the litter. Meanwhile I took from the table on 
which it was carelessly thrown, the light hatchet that I habitually 
carried with me in my rambles. 

" Do you think that you need that idle weapon 1" said Mar- 
grave. " Do you fear the good faith of my swarthy attendants ?" 
• •• Nay, take the hatchet yourself ; its use is to sever the gold 
from the quartz in which we may find it embedded, or to clear, as 
this shovel, which will also be needed, from the slight soil above 
it the ore that the mine' in the mountain flings forth, as the sea 
casts its waifs on Ike sands.'' 

" Give me your hand, fellow-laborer !" said Margrave, joy- 
fully, "Ah, there is no faltering terror in this pulse. 1 was not 
mistaken in the Man. What rests but the Place and the Hour I — 
1 shall live — I shall live !" 



CHAPTER LXXXI. 

Margrave now entered the litter, and tbe Veiled Woman drew 
the black curtains round him. 1 walked on, as the guide, some 
yards in advance. The air was still, heavy, and parched with the 
breath of the Australasian sir 

We passed through the meadow-lands studded with slumbering 
flocks; we followed the branch of the creek which was linked to 
its source in the mountains by many a trickling waterfall ; we 
threaded the gloom of stunted, misshapen trees, gnarled with the 
stringy bark which makes one of the signs of the strata that 
nourish gold ; and at length the moon, now in all her pomp of 



350 A STRANGE STORY. 

light, mid-heaven among her subject stars, gleamed through the 
fissures of the cave, on whose floor lay the relics of antediluvian 
races, and rested in one flood of silvery splendor upon the hollows 
of the extinct, volcano, with tufts of dank herbage and wide spaces 
of paler sward covering the gold below — Gold, the dumb symbol 
of organized Matter's areat mystery, storing in itself, according as 
Mind, the informer of Matter, can distinguish its uses, evil and 
good, bane and blessing. 

Hitherto the Veiled Woman had remained in the rear, with the 
white-robed, skelei on-like image that had crept to my side una- 
wares, will, its noiseless step. Thus, in each winding turn of the 
•ulr path at which the convoy, following behind me, came into 
sight, I had seen first the two gayly-dressed armed men, next the 
k bier- ike litter, and last the Black-veiled Woman and the 
White-robed Skeleton. 

But now, as I halted on the table-land, backed by the mountain 
and fronting the valley, the woman left her companion, passed by 
the litter and the armed men, and paused by my side, at the mouth 
of the moonlit cavern. 

re for a moment she stood, silent, the procession below 
mounting upward laboriously and slow 5 then she turned to me, 
and her veil was withdrawn. 

The face on which I gazed was woudrously beautiful, and se- 
verely awful. There was neither youth nor age — a beauty mature 
and majestic as that of a marble Demeter. 

" Do you believe in that which you seek V she asked, in her 
foreign, melodious, melancholy accents. 

" I have no belief," was my answer. "True science has none. 
True science questions all things, takes nothing upon credit. It 
knows but .three states of mind — Denial, Conviction, and that vast 
interval between the two which is not belief, but suspense of judg- 

■ r " 

The woman let fall her veil, moved from me, and seated herself 
on a crag above that cleft between mountain and creek, to which, 
when I had first discovered the gold that the land nourished, the 
rain from the clouds had given the rushing life of the cataract, 
but which now, in the drought and hush of the skies, was but a 
dead pile of stones. 

The litter now ascended the height; its bearers halted ; a lean 
hand tore the curtains aside, and Margrave descended, leaning, 
this time, not on the black-veiled woman, but on the white-robed 
skeleton. 

There, as he stood, the moon shone full on his wasted form ; on 
his face, resolute, cheerful, and proud, despite its hollowed outlines 
and sicklied hues. He raised his head, spoke in the language un- 
known to me, and the armed men and the litter-bearers grouped 
round him, bending low. their eyes fixed on the ground. The 
Veiled Woman rose slowly and came to his side, motioning away 



A STRANGE STORY. 351 

with a mute sign the ghastly form on which he leaned, and passing 
round him silently instead her own sustaining arm. Mar 
spoke again a few sentences, of which 1 could not even guess the 
meaning. When he had conducted, the armed men and the litter- 
bearers came newer to his feet, knelt down, and kissed his hand. 
They then ruse and look from the bier-like vehicle the C 
the fuel. This done, they lifted again the litter, and again, p] 
ded by the armed men, the procession descended down the slop- 
ing hill-side down into the valley below. 

Margrave now whispered for some moments Into the ear of the 
hideous creature who bad made way for the Veiled Woman. The 
grim skeleton bowed his head submissively, and strode noiselessly 
away through the long grasses; the slender stems, trampled under 
ids stealthy feet, relifling themselves, as after a passing wind. — 
And thus lie too sank out of sight down into the valley below. On 
the table-land of the hill remained only we three — Margrave, my- 
self, and the Veiled Woman. 

She had reseated herself apart, on the gray crag above the dried 
torrent, lie stood at the entrance of the cavern round the sides 
of which clustered parasital plants, withfiowersof all colors, i 
among them opening their petals and exhaling their fragrance only 
in the hours of night ; so that, as his form tilled up the jaws of the 
dull arch, obscuring the moonbeam that strove to pieroe the shad- 
ows that slept within, it stood now — wan and blighted — as I had 
seen it first, radiant and joyous, >• literally framed in blooms." 



CHAPTER LXXX1I. 

•• So," said Margrave, turning to me, "under the soil that spreads 
around us lies the gold, which to you and tome is at this moment 
of no value, except as a guide to its twin-horn — the regenerator of 
life ! •' 

"You have not yet described to me the nature of the substance 
which we are to explore, nor of the process by which the virtues 
you impute to it are i ( » he extracted." 

"Let us first find the gold, and instead of describing the life- 
amber, so let me call it, I will point it out to your own eyes. As 
to the process, your share in it is so simple, that you will ask me 
why I seek aid from a chemist. The life-amber, when found, has 
but to be subjected to heat and fermentation for six hours ; it will 
be placed in a small caldron which that culler contains, over the lire 
which that fuel will i'cvA. To give effect to the process, certain 



352 A STRANGE STORY. 

alkalis and other ingredients are required. But these are prepared, 
and mine is the task to commingle them. From your science as a 
chemist I need and ask naught. In you I have sought only the 
aid of a man." 

" If that be so, why, indeed, seek me at all 1 why not. confide in 
those swarthy attendants who doubtless are slaves to your orders 1 " 

"Con fide in slaves! when the first task enjoined to them would 
be to discover, and refrain from prolonging gold. Seven such un- 
scrupulous* knaves, or even one such, and I thus defenceless and 
le ! Such is not the work that wise masters confide? to tierce 
slaves. But that is the least of the reasons which exclude them 
from my choice, and fix pay choice of assistant on you. Do you 
el what I told you of the danger which the Dervish declared 
no bribe 1 could offer could tempt him a second time to brave?" 

"I remember, now; those words had passed away from my 
mind." 

" And because they had passed away from your mind, I chose 
you for my comrade. I need a man by whom danger is scorned." 

"But in the process of which you tell, me I see no possible dan- 
ger unless the ingredients you mix in your caldron have poisonous 
fumes." 

" ii is not that. The ingredients 1 use are not poisons." 

" What other danger except you dread your own Eastern slaves? 
But if so, s why lead them to these solitudes.' and if so, why not 
bid me be armed? " 

" The Eastern slaves, fulfilling my commands, will wait for my 
summons where their eyes cannot see what- we do. The danger is 
kind in which the boldest son of the East would be more 
s than the daintiest Sybarite of Europe, who would 
shrink from a panther and laugh at a ghost. In the creed of the 
Dervish, and of all who adventure into that, realm of nature which 
losed to philosophy and open to magic, there are races in the 
magnitude of space unseen as animalcules in the world of a drop. 
For the tribes of the drop science has its microscope. Of thehosts 
in azure Infinite, magic gains sight, and through them gains 
mand over fluid conductors that link all the parts of creation. 
Of these races some are wholly indifferent to man, some benign to 
him, and some deadly hostile. In all the regular and prescribed 
conditions of mortal' being this magic realm seems as blank and 
tenantless as yon vacant air. But when a seeker of powers beyond 
the rude functions by which man plies the clock-work, that measures 
his hours and stops when its chain reaches the end of its coil, 
strives to pass over those boundaries at which philosophy says, 
' Knowledge ends,' then he is like all other travelers in regions un- 
known ; he must propitiate or brave the tribes that are hostile, 
must depend for his life on the tribes that are friendly. Though 
your science discredits the alchemist's dogmas, your learning in- 
forms vow that all alchemists were not ignorant impostors; yet 



A ST RANG B STORY. 353 

those who 'Ties prove them to have been the nearest allies 

to your practical knowledge, ever hint in their mystical works at 
the reality of that realm which is open to magic — eve* hint that 
some means less familiar than furnace ami hollows are essential to 
him who explores the elixir ef life. He who once quaffs thai elixir 
obtains in his very veins the Bright fluid by which he transmits 
the force of his will to agencies dormant in nature 
seen in Hie space. And "here, as he passes the boundary v. 
divides his allotted and normal mortality from the regions and 
races that magic alone can explore, so here he breaks down the 
n.ard between himself am! the tribes that are hostile. Is it 
not ever thus between man and man ' Let a race, the most gentle 
ami timid and civilized, dwell on one side a river or mountain, and 
her have home in the region beyond, each, if it pass not the h> 
tervening ba Tier between them, may with eaeh live in peace! 
if ambitious adventurers scale the mountain, or cross the river, 
with designs tq subdue and enslave the populations they boldly 
invade, then a!! the invaded rise in wrath and defiance — the >■ 
hors are changed into foes. A d, therefore, this process, bj tvhich 
a simple though rare materia! of nature is made to yield to a 
mortal the boon ef a life which brings with its glorious resis 
to Time, desires, and faculties to subjecl to iis service beings that. 
arth, and the air. and the deep, has ever been one of 
the same peril which an invader must brave when he oross< - 
hounds of Iks nation. By this key alone you unlock all the cells 
ist's lore; by this alone understand how a labor 
which a chemist's crudest apprentice could perform, has baffled the 
giantf children of science. Nature, thai 

stores this priceless boon, seems to shrink from conceding it to 
man — the invisible tribes thai abhor him oppose themselves to the 
gain that mighl gi a master. The duller of those, who 

were the li 'S of old, would have told yon how son; 

trivial 1 for, foiled their grand hope at the very poi 

fruition ; some doltish mistake, some improvident oversight; a 

bur, a wild overflow in the quicksilver, or a flaw in 
the bellows, or a pupil, who had but to replenish the fuel, fell asleep 
by the furnace. The invisible foes seldom vouchsafe to m 
themselves visible where they can frustrate the bungler as they 
mock .Is from their ambush. But the mightier adventurers, 

equally. foiled in despite of their patience and skill, would have 
said, ' Not with us rests the fault: we uegle 
failed from no oversight. Bu eut from the caldron dre 
arose, and ma dismayed and banted us.' £ 

then, is the danger which seems so appalling to a SOU of the Mast, 
as it seemed to a seer in the dark age of Europe, lint we can 
deride all lis threats, you audi. Formyself, I own frankly I sake 
all the safety that the charma and resources of magic bestow. Yon, 
for your safeiv. he. mltured and disciplined reason which 

83 



354 A STRANGE STORY. 

reduces all phantasies to nervous impressions, and I rely on the 
courage of one who has 'questioned urtquailing the Luminous 
Shadow, and wrested from the hand of the magician himself the 
wand which concentred the wonders of will ! " 

To this strange and long discourse I listened without inter- 
ruption, and now quietly answered, 

"I do not. merit the trust you affect in my courage; but I am 
now on my guard against the cheats of the fancy, and the fumes of 
a vapor can scarcely bewilder the brain in the open air of this 
mountain-land. 1 believe in no races like those which you tell me 
lie viewless in space, as do gases. I believe not in magic ; 1 ask- 
not us aids, and I dread not its tenors, for the rest 1 am confident 
of one mournful courage — the courage that comes from despair. I 
submit to your guidance, whatever it be, as a sufferer whom coll 
doom to the gratis submits to the quack, who says, 'Take my 
specific and live!' My life is naught in itself; my life lives in 
another. You ami I are both brave from despair; you would turn 
death from yourself, I would turn death from one I love more than 
myself. Both know how little aid we can win from the colleges, 
and both, iherefure, turn to the promises most audaciously cheer- 
ing : Dervish or magician, alchemist or phantom, what care you 
and I i And if they fail us, what then .' They cannot fail us 
more than ges do ! "